Western Meadowrue
Thalictrum occidentale Gray
Family: Ranunculaceae, Buttercup
Genus: Thalictrum
Other names: Western meadow-rue
Nomenclature: occidentale = western
Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant
Medicinal plant
No edibility data

General: erect perennial, hairless to glandular-short-hairy. Stems mostly 40-100 cm tall, leafy, purplish when young, from rhizomes and yellow roots.

Leaves: mainly on stem, alternate, with a bluish-white cast, 3-4 times divided in 3's, the leaflets thin, wedge-shaped to obovate, 1.5-3 cm long, rounded to somewhat cordate at the base, usually 3-lobed and the lobes entire to less deeply 2- to 3-lobed or -toothed.

Flowers: greenish to purplish, male and female flowers on separate plants, many in loose, branched clusters with leafy bracts. Petals lacking, sepals 2-5 mm long. Stamens 15-30, the filaments thread-like, 4-8 mm long, usually purplish, the anthers light brown, 1.5-4 mm long. Ovaries glandular-hairy, stigmas usually purplish, 3-4.5 mm long. May-July.

Fruits: elliptic achenes, spreading to curved back, mostly 5-8 mm long and 2-2.5 mm broad, slightly flattened, with 3 prominent, usually simple nerves on each side. Stipes 0.2-1 mm long.


Moist, open to shaded sites, foothills to subalpine, in w. and c. parts of MT. Also from B.C. to WY, CO, UT and CA.
Medicinal Uses

The Blackfoot Indians powdered the fruits of meadow rue and mixed them with water to be used as a cosmetic on the hair and body. They also made a tea of seeds for chest pains. The fruits were used to spice pemmican, dried meat and broths. The Bella Coola chewed the root and swallowed the juice for headache, eye trouble and sore legs, and to loosen phlegm and improve blood circulation. The Thompson Indians made a poultice of mashed roots to be applied to open wounds.

Other Uses

The fruits were kept as a household and clothing deodorant and often crushed and mixed with paint for robes. The seeds and leaves were also placed among clothing or other possessions as an insect repellant.

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