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Hydrastis canadensis

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Kemper Code:  K570

Common Name: golden seal
Zone: 3 to 8
Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Ranunculaceae
Missouri Native: Yes
Native Range: Southeastern United States
Height: 0.75 to 1 foot
Spread: 0.75 to 1 foot
Bloom Time: April - May   Bloom Data
Bloom Color: Greenish-yellow to greenish-white
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low

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Plant Culture and Characteristics

Sources for this plant

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  Uses:       Wildlife:   Flowers:   Leaves:   Fruit:
Hedge Suitable as annual Attracts birds Has showy flowers Leaves colorful Has showy fruit
Shade tree Culinary herb Attracts Has fragrant flowers Leaves fragrant Fruit edible
Street tree Vegetable   hummingbirds Flowers not showy Good fall color   Other:
Flowering tree Water garden plant Attracts Good cut flower Evergreen Winter interest
Gr. cover (<1') Will naturalize   butterflies Good dried flower     Thorns or spines

General Culture:

Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in part shade. Prefers well-composted soils with lots of leaf mold.

Noteworthy Characteristics:

Golden seal is a native Missouri wildflower which occurs in rich woods, wooded slopes and valleys, and typically grows 10-15" tall. Features a single, large, palmately lobed, wrinkled, basal leaf (to 8" wide) and a two-leafed flower stalk topped with a solitary, yellowish green to greenish white, apetalous flower with prominent whitish stamens. Flowers bloom in spring, and give way to attractive but inedible scarlet red berries. Hydrastine is a bitter alkaloid which is extracted from the rootstock for certain pharmacological purposes (aids digestion or inhibits bleeding). Rootstock was used by early Americans for a variety of purposes including tonic, diuretic, insect repellant and yellow dye. All parts of the plant are poisonous in large doses, however. Common name is in reference to the plant's thick, yellow rhizome.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Woodland garden, native plant garden, shaded naturalized plantings or wild garden.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2001-2011