Herb: Bogbean

Latin name: Menyanthes trifoliata

Family: Menyanthaceae (Buck-bean Family)

Medicinal use of Bogbean:

Bogbean is closely related to the gentians, which are famous bitter herbs used as a digestive and general body tonic. This plant can be used similarly, but it can irritate the digestive system of patients with gastric inflammation or infection. The plant is anti-inflammatory, astringent, carminative, cathartic, deobstruent, digestive, diuretic, emetic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, hypnotic, stomachic, tonic. All parts of the plant are medically active, but the leaves are the part most commonly used. The leaves are best harvested in late spring or early summer and dried before use, the fresh plant causes vomiting. An infusion is given in the treatment of muscular weakness in M.E., chronic infections with debility and exhaustion, indigestion, anorexia and rheumatism. Given in small doses of about 10 grains it imparts vigour to the stomach and aids digestion. Using the plant helps a person to gain weight. It s also believed to be an effective remedy for rheumatoid arthritis, especially when this condition is associated with weakness, weight loss and lack of vitality. Bogbean is usually prescribed in combination with other herbs such as celery seed (Apium graveolens) and white willow (Salix alba). This plant should not be prescribed for patients with diarrhoea, dysentery or colitis. Excess doses cause vomiting.

Description of the plant:


25 cm
(9 3/4 inch)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

Shallow water on the edges of ponds and in marshy ground, usually in acid soils.

Edible parts of Bogbean:

Root - cooked. It must be treated to get rid of an acrid taste. This can be done by drying the root, grinding it into a powder and then washing it in running water. Unfortunately, this treatment will also get rid of many of the vitamins and minerals contained in the root. The powder can be used for making "missen bread" (famine bread). The root is an emergency food that is used when all else fails. The intensely bitter leaves are used as a substitute for hops in making beer.

Propagation of the herb:

Do not allow the seed to dry out. Sow late winter to early spring in a pot in a cold frame and keep the pot just submerged in water. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in trays of water in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in spring. Very easy, the divisions can be planted straight out into their permanent positions if required. However, particularly with smaller divisions, we find it better to pot them up and grow them on in a cold frame for a few weeks until they are established. Cuttings taken in summer can be inserted into the mud at the side of the pond and will normally root well.

Cultivation of Bogbean:

Shallow water on the edges of ponds and in marshy ground, usually in acid soils.

Known hazards of Menyanthes trifoliata:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.