purple meadow-rue

(Thalictrum dasycarpum)

Conservation Status
purple meadow-rue
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5? - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FAC - Facultative


FACW - Facultative wetland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACW - Facultative wetland


Purple meadow-rue 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.




3 to 5


Flower Color




Similar Species


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.


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




June to July


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 24, 28, 29, 30.








Very common

  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Ranunculanae  


Ranunculales (buttercups, poppies, and allies)  


Ranunculaceae (buttercup)  
  Subfamily Thalictroideae (columbines and meadow-rues)  


Thalictrum (meadow-rues)  

Subordinate Taxa


A hairless and glandless (glabrous) variety has been described as Thalictrum dasycarpum var. hypoglaucum. However, both forms occur throughout the range of the species and are sometimes found in the same population.




Thalictrum dasycarpum var. dasycarpum

Thalictrum dasycarpum var. hypoglaucum

Thalictrum hypoglaucum


Common Names


purple meadow rue

purple meadowrue

purple 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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Greg Watson

    purple meadow-rue      
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos


    purple meadow-rue      

Male Inflorescence

    purple meadow-rue   purple meadow-rue  
    purple meadow-rue   purple meadow-rue  

Female Inflorescence

    purple meadow-rue      


    purple meadow-rue   purple meadow-rue  
    purple 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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  Greg Watson

Location: Apple Blossom Overlook Park

purple meadow rue  
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings

Anna Gronseth Prairie

Avon Hills Forest SNA, North Unit

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