Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Wildflower Wednesday: Porteranthus stipulatus

Our October Wildflower Wednesday star is a beauty each fall as the deeply cut, toothed, trifoliate, medium green leaves turn a delightful golden orange.

I fell in love with its fall color.

Then I noticed it had the most delightful foliage and wiry stems with little seed pods left over from the summer flowers.

I decided then and there that it had to be in my garden, even though I hadn't seen any flowers. Foliage that packs this much color punch in the fall is a must have in my part shade/part sun garden.


 I am not sure why this plant isn't in more gardens, after all, who needs big showy blooms on every plant when subtle beauty and charm can be found on this lovely native. It is found naturally growing in rich woods in a good portion of the Eastern US. It can take full sun in northern states, but, I recommend half sun in gardens that are on the hot/dry side. It has tolerated dry conditions in my garden, blooms every year and the fall color is grand.

There's one small the problem in my garden. While, I have rich soil for part of the year, our dry summers and our even dryer fall months (the last few years especially) have made this cutie patootie unhappy. It survives, but isn't thriving. I've seen it looking fabulous in gardens with deeper, richer soil and I know given those conditions it would look fantastic.

 Just look at those cute flowers, now imagine them blooming en mass on a small slope each spring. Now imagine that same hillside blanketed in our star's golden orange and bronze red each October! 

Stunning is what comes to mind.

It pairs beautifully with our woodland ex-asters and would look equally lovely in the spring with Columbine, Baptisia and other spring lovelies.

Porteranthus stipulatus is too valuable a wildflower to let it languish in the dryer section of my garden. It's time to move it closer to the hose where I can give it a good gulp of water once a week. The perfect spot is near the front path, close to the faucet and in full view so visitors will be sure to see it's many charms.  


Trust me on this, it is a charming plant and worth the search. Try GroWild here in Middle Tennessee and if you live way north of here, check with Prairie Moon Nursery.

Also, check with your State Native Plant Association for local nurseries.

 The particulars   

Botanical name: Porteranthus stipulatus 

Common Name: American Ipecac ( this common name comes from the Native Americans’ former medicinal use of the plant’s roots for an emetic), Indian physic; Midwestern Indian-physic 

Synonym: Gillenia stipulata

Family: Rosaceae

Growth habit: Sub shrub 

Native Range: Central and eastern North America 


Hardiness Zones: 4 to 8 

Height: 2.50 to 3.00 feet 

Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet 

Bloom Time: May to June 

Flower: White or light pink, showy

Root: perennial rhizome 

Sun: Part shade 

Water: Medium 

Maintenance: Low

Soil: 6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)  6.6 to 7.5 (neutral) 

Faunal associations: Long and short tongued bees visit for nectar and pollen. Flies, butterflies, and skippers also visit. 

Propagation methods:
  • Root division
  • Seed collection: Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry
  • From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall; winter sow in vented containers; coldframe or unheated greenhouse; sow indoors before last frost; direct sow after last frost  



Comments: Will form colonies if happy. Imagine a hillside with those cute flowers all blooming at once and then each fall a blanket of bronze red, golden orange. 

Deer/rabbit resistant : yes/yes

Thank you for stopping by to celebrate native wildflowers. 


Welcome to Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesday celebration. I am so glad you stopped by. WW is about sharing and celebrating wildflowers from all over this great big, beautiful world. Join us on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Remember, it doesn't matter if they are in bloom and, it doesn't matter if we all share the same plants; it's all about celebrating wildflowers. Please leave a comment when you add your url to Mr Linky.


 Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.


  1. What a lovely plant! I need to get this in my garden! Happy Fall and Happy WW!

  2. That is a beautiful plant. I am sending along a native winterberry, Ilex verticillata, for my 'wildflower." I grow three (four counting the male) winterberries to provide bird food, especially for birds that are migrating right now. The only flower in bloom right now, aside from some annuals, is my sheffies. I can't tell if Chrysanthemum (aka Dendranthema) ‘Sheffield Pink’ is a native, but it qualifies as an antique variety. It blooms very late, which makes it particularly welcome. Thank you for providing Wildflower Wednesday!

  3. This is quite nice. I haven't seen it around here before. Those leaves almost look like cannabis leaves to me. :))

  4. I don’t blame you for falling for its fall color, it really grabbed my eye!

  5. Just beautiful, and it's native to Oklahoma too. I like how the leaves look a little bit like a Japanese maple, and the flowers look like delicate versions of Magnolia stellata maybe? I didn't look up that botanical name so I might be wrong. I think I must find a place for this one. Thank you for always enlarging my native horizons. xoxo ~~Dee


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson