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Hydrastis canadensis Hydrastis canadensis

My first contact with Hydrastis canadensis was under less than pleasant circumstances. Suffering a terrible cold, accompanied by a fiery sore throat and being opposed to the use of antibiotics, I was resolved to suffer the symptoms while my immune system fought back. Enter Marvin McCoy, one of my neighbors whose family has lived in these mountains for generations. He brought me a pint mason jar full of these gnarly, shriveled, yellow roots. After grinding a few up in the blender, making a tea and letting it cool, I tried to get it down my throat in spite of the protests by my taste buds. It just happens to be one of the most bitter tastes that you can imagine. Well, this story has a happy ending as I was almost instantly cured.

On the ornamental side, Hydrastis canadensis makes an interesting addition to any shade border or natural garden. The handsome foliage unfurls very sexily in the early Spring, followed by quarter sized white flowers reminiscent of Trautvetteria caroliniana, another Ranunculaceae family member. The flowers stick around about a week or so and then begin their summer long transformation into a brilliant red berry.

This is a plant that has all season long interest and is very easy to grow.

Have you ever considered having your own medicinal plant garden? Perhaps the oldest and most famous one of all is in the UK. The Chelsea Physic Garden can be found at Founded in 1673, the Garden's moniker "Enter a magical environment of botany and wonder" rings true. This very well organized garden is home to over 5000 taxa. Their collection concentrates on medicinal plants and those of ethnobotanical interest, as well as rare and endangered species.

By the way, if you are interested in medicinal plants, you'll see a link below for Stephen Foster. Stephen is a pioneer in modern herbalism and has many books about the subject under his belt. He is most responsible for educating the modern day public about the use of Echinacea . Stephen's web site is very well assembled and full of valuable and interesting information.

It would be difficult to mention Stephen and to not mention Jim Duke in the same breath. There is not enough room in this email or on the Internet for that matter to tell you about Jim Duke, the man and his work. So I will just direct you to his web site and let Jim tell you about himself I promise that you will be delighted, educated and entertained.

Propagation of Hydrastis canadensis is easy by division in the early Spring, but the quickest way to get a colony up and going quickly is to macerate the red berries of late summer in a colander under running water and immediately sow the shiny black seeds.

I've put up an image gallery illustrating the life cycle of Hydrastis canadensis at:

This is the first image gallery in my "Master Plan" to chronicle all of the different plants that I know and grow. I'm photographing and scanning thousands of plants from early spring emergence to seed production at the end of their growth cycle. My hopes are that this endeavor will aid in identification of species in the wild and help fellow gardeners determine what plants they would like to grow in their gardens. I'm also having a hell of a lot of fun doing it.

Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom -
Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom - Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision - Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division - Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class - Magnoliopsida - dicotyledons
Subclass - Magnoliidae
Order - Ranunculales
Family - Ranunculaceae
Genus - Hydrastis
Species - canadensis
Common name - genus - "Goldenseal"
Common name - species - "Goldenseal"
Synonyms - none that I have found
Native of - Eastern US
USDA Hardiness Zone - zone 5
Light preference - Full shade to dappled sunlight
Soil fertility preference - Average
Soil moisture preference - Average to well drained
Bloom time - Early to mid spring
Bloom color - White
Foliage - Medium green
Spread - 4"-8"
Height - 8" - 16"
Landscape uses - Naturalizing in a shade, woodland or medicinal plant garden
Medicinal uses - see:

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Barry Glick, Sunshine Farm and Gardens
696 Glicks Rd, Renick, WV 24966, USA
Phone: (304) 497-2208

Last modified February 25, 2020