Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Hydrastis canadensis


Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Hydrastis canadensis (Goldenseal)
Bruso, George H.
Goldenseal becomes 6-12 in. tall, usually bearing three maple-like, shiny-green leaves. The stem is terminated by a single, white flower with yellow stamens followed by a tight cluster of red fruit. 1 large, wrinkled, basal leaf and a hairy stalk bearing 1 flower above a pair of 5-lobed stem leaves, all rising from a yellow, underground stem.

Lacking petals and losing the sepals early, the flowers of this species owe their color to the many whitish stamens. The plant was used medicinally by Native Americans and colonists and is still in use today, ranking with American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) of the ginseng family (Araliaceae) as one of the most collected of eastern North American medicinal herbs. Its current rarity is due at least in part to overcollection.

Image Gallery:

13 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit: Red
Size Class: 0-1 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May


USA: AL , AR , CT , DE , GA , IL , IN , IA , KS , KY , MD , MA , MI , MN , MS , MO , NJ , NY , NC , OH , PA , TN , VT , VA , WV , WI
Canada: ON
Native Distribution: VT to MI & MN, s. to VA, mts. of GA, AL, TN & AR
Native Habitat: Deep, rich woods

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
Soil Description: Moist, humus-rich soil.
Conditions Comments: A deciduous leaf winter cover is desirable. A good ground cover for moist, shady places. The knotty yellow rhizomes are used in medicine and have been collected so extensively that the plant is nearly exterminated.

Last Update: 2014-02-03