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Thalictrum flavum0.jpg
Thalictrum flavum
Scientific classification e
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Ranunculaceae
Subfamily: Thalictroideae
Genus: Thalictrum
Tourn. ex L.

See text

Thalictrum ( /θəˈlɪktrəm/) is a genus of 120-200 species of herbaceous perennial flowering plants in the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, native mostly to temperate regions.[1] Meadow-rue is a common name for plants in this genus.[2]

Thalictrum is a taxonomically difficult genus with poorly understood species boundaries; it is in need of further taxonomic and field research for clarification.

Despite their common name of "meadow-rue", Thalictrum species are not closely related to the true rue (family Rutaceae), but resemble its members in having compound leaves twice or thrice divided.[3]:120


Meadow-rue leaves are alternate, bipinnately compound, and commonly glaucous blue-green in colour.

The flowers are small and apetalous (no petals), but have numerous long stamens, often brightly white, yellow, pink or pale purple, and are produced in conspicuous dense inflorescences. In some species (e.g. T. chelidonii, T. tuberosum), the sepals are large, brightly coloured and petal-like, but in most they are small and fall when the flower opens or soon after.

Habitat and distribution[edit]

Meadow-rues are usually found in shaded or damp locations, with a sub-cosmopolitan range throughout most of the Northern Hemisphere and also south to southern Africa and tropical South America, but absent from Australasia. They are most common in temperate regions of the world; twenty-two species are found in North America.


Anemophily (wind pollination) is a characteristic of some members this genus, as seen in Thalictrum fendleri and Thalictrum dioicum. Others, such as Thalictrum sparsiflorum, are entomophilous (pollinated by insects).[4]

Thalictrum species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the Setaceous Hebrew Character moth.[citation needed]

Chemical constituents[edit]

Thalictrum species have been extensively studied by chemists. Typical natural products found in this genus are benzylisoquinoline alkaloids such as magnoflorine and the structurally related alkaloid berberine.[5]

Selected species[edit]



  1. ^ Park, Marilyn M.; Festerling Jr., Dennis (1997). "Thalictrum". In Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed.). Flora of North America North of Mexico (FNA). 3. New York and Oxford – via, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
  2. ^ "Thalictrum". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  3. ^ Stace, C. A. (2010). New Flora of the British Isles (Third ed.). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521707725.
  4. ^ Steven, Janet; Waller, Donald (2004). "Reproductive alternatives to insect pollination in four species of Thalictrum (Ranunculaceae)". Plant Species Biology. 19 (2): 73–80. doi:10.1111/j.1442-1984.2004.00103.x. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  5. ^ Willaman, J. J.; Liu, H.-L. (1970). "Lloydia (Supplement)". pp. 182–183. Missing or empty |url= (help)

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