Bogbean is an aquatic plant which is happiest submerged in water. It forms floating mats in the acidic ponds and shallow lochs of the uplands or creeps in bogs. It is found mostly in the West of Scotland. Sometimes referred to as Marsh Trefoil they have been confused with clovers (also trifoliate), though they bear no family resemblance, and it is only the three lobed leaves that give rise to the scientific nomenclature.
When found in shallow water only the leaves rise above the surface, the glabrous and fleshy stalks remain underwater above a thick creeping rhizomous rootstock. The leaves themselves are glossy, fleshy and bright green, with 3 distinct and equal oval lobes. Edges are unbroken but slightly wavy.
The flowerhead appears at the top of the stem in a spike of white flowers. Each flower is about 15mm across, and funnel-shaped, with 5 fused lobes with pointed ends splaying out halfway along. The inner surface of each lobe is densely covered with thick white wavy hairs. This gives the flower a fringed appearance. 5 long stamens nestle among these hairs with dark purple, almost black anthers. In the middle a thick reddish style sits on top of the ovary.
The fruit is a spherical many-seeded capsule, which curls open to reveal bean-like seeds.