tall meadow rue

(Thalictrum dasycarpum)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

tall meadow rue


N5? - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed


Great Plains

FAC - Facultative


FACW - Facultative wetland

Northcentral & Northeast

FACW - Facultative wetland






Wet to moderate moisture. Meadows, shores, streambanks. Full to partial sun.


June to July

Flower Color



3 to 5



This is a 3 to 5 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises from a caudex. Staminate flowers (male) and pistillate flowers (female) are borne on separate plants.

Stems are erect, hairless, and often branched in the upper half. They are green when young becoming purple with maturity.

Basal and lower stem leaves are on leaf stalks, middle and upper leaves are stalkless or nearly stalkless. Stem leaves are alternate. They are 3 to 5 times ternate—divided into 3 main divisions (ternate), each division further divided into 3 segments (biternate), each segment further divided into 3 leaflets (triternate), or once or twice more divided. The leaflets are to 2 long, to 1¾ wide, 1 to 2½ times as long as wide. They are egg-shaped with the attachment at the wide end or inversely egg-shaped with the attachment at the narrow end. The larger leaflets are divided into 2 to 5 but usually 3 lobes. The lobes are untoothed or occasionally have a few additional teeth. Smaller leaflets may be unlobed. The upper surface is hairless, the lower surface hairy but not glandular.

The male inflorescence is a large, open, showy, branched cluster at the end of the stems and branches. It is up to 10 tall and pyramid-shaped at the top. The female inflorescence is not showy.

Male flowers have usually 4 but up to 6 whitish petal-like sepals. There are no petals. They droop at the end of short stalks. The sepals often drop off early leaving about 12 stamens with white filaments and yellow anthers. The flowers do not produce petals or nectar to attract insects. They are wind pollinated.

The fruit is an achene about long.


Early meadow rue (Thalictrum doicum) is a much smaller plant, 12 to 28 at maturity. All leaves, including middle and upper leaves, are on long stalks. The leaflets have 3 to 12 often round-toothed lobes. The flowers bloom earlier, April to May.

Waxy leaf meadow rue (Thalictrum revolutum) stems are glaucous. Leaflet margins are rolled backward to the underside. The lower leaflet surface is covered with glandular hairs giving it a whitish, waxy appearance, and has a conspicuous network of raised veins.

Distribution Distribution Map   Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28.





Ranuncuaceae (buttercup)











Thalictrum dasycarpum var. dasycarpum

Thalictrum dasycarpum var. hypoglaucum

Thalictrum hypoglaucum


purple meadow rue

purple meadowrue

purple meadow-rue

tall meadow rue

tall meadow-rue












A dry, one-chambered, single-seeded fruit, formed from a single carpel, with the seed attached to the membranous outer layer (wall) only by the seed stalk; the wall, formed entirely from the wall of the superior ovary, does not split open at maturity, but relies on decay or predation to release the contents.



A short, thickened, woody, persistent enlargement of the stem, at or below ground level, used for water storage.


Glandular hairs

Hairs spread over aerial vegetation that secrete essential oils. The oils act to protect against herbivores and pathogens or, when on a flower part, attract pollinators. The hairs have a sticky or oily feel.



Pale green or bluish gray due to a whitish, powdery or waxy film, as on a plum or a grape.



Refers to leaves that are divided into three leaflets or sections.


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  tall meadow rue    

Male Inflorescence

  tall meadow rue   tall meadow rue
  tall meadow rue   tall meadow rue

Female Inflorescence

  tall meadow rue    


  tall meadow rue   tall meadow rue
  tall meadow rue    





  Tall Meadow Rue (King of the Meadow) (Thalictrum pubescens)
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Tall Meadow Rue (King of the Meadow) (Thalictrum pubescens)  




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