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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 3 | Ranunculaceae | Hydrastis

1. Hydrastis canadensis Linnaeus, Syst. Nat. ed. 10. 2: 1088. 1759.

Goldenseal, orangeroot, yellow-puccoon, sceau d'or

Herbs , 15-50 cm. Rhizomes with tough fibrous roots. Stems erect, unbranched, pubescent. Leaves: basal leaf often quickly deciduous, 1; cauline leaves, 2, similar to basal. Leaf blade 3-10 cm wide at anthesis, to 25 cm wide in fruit; lobes variously incised, margins singly or doubly serrate. Flowers 8-18 mm wide; peduncle 5-38 mm, ± closely subtended by distalmost cauline leaf; sepals not clawed, 3.5-7 mm, glabrous; stamens strongly exserted, white showy, 4-8 mm; pistils 1-carpellate, distinct; stigma 2-lipped. Berry aggregates dark red, 10-15 × 8-15(-20) mm, each berry 5-8 × 1.5-5 mm. Seeds 1-2 per pistil, 2.5-4.5 mm.

Flowering spring. Mesic, deciduous forests, often on clay soil; 50-1200 m; Ont.; Ala., Ark., Conn., Del., Ga., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Ky., Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Pa., Tenn., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis.

A decrease in undisturbed, deciduous woodlands and commercial harvesting of the rhizomes for herbal medicine have contributed to a decline of this species. The species is considered very infrequent in Canada (G. W. Argus and K. M. Pryer 1990) and in some U.S. states (D. J. White and H. L. Dickson 1983). The raspberrylike fruit is considered inedible.

Native Americans used Hydrastis canadensis medicinally for treating cancer, whooping cough, diarrhea, liver trouble, earaches, sore eyes, fevers, pneumonia, heart trouble, tuberculosis, chapped or cut lips, and dyspepsy; to improve appetite; and as a tonic, and as a wash for inflammation (D. E. Moerman 1986).


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