Perennial. Rich woods. New York to Minnesota and southward. Frequent in northern Ohio. April, May.
Thick, knotted, yellow, about two inches long, with many long, fibrous roots; juices bitter.
Simple, hairy, two-leaved, bearing a single greenish-white flower.
Basal leaf long-petioled, rounded, heart-shaped at base, five to seven-lobed, doubly serrate, veiny; when full grown in summer, four to nine inches wide; stem-leaves two, borne at the summit of the stem.
Greenish white, sepals dropping early so as to leave the flower chiefly a mass of stamens.
Three sepals, petal-like, falling when the flower opens.
Twelve or more carpels in a head.
A head of small, crimson, fleshy carpels, looking like a red raspberry.
This is a plant that ordinary observers would call rare, and, as a matter of fact, is not often seen, principally because there is so little to see. A low perennial herb with a stout, strongly rooted rootstock, golden yellow when broken, sends up in the spring a slender stem about a foot high, which bears one or two alternate five to seven-lobed leaves and a large basal leaf of similar general outline. At the summit of this stem is a single greenish white flower, which is destitute of a corolla and can boast of only three whitish sepals that fall promptly as the flower opens. So all that one sees is a two-leaved stem surmounted by a cluster of stamens and pistils, and naturally it is neglected. The fruit is somewhat pulpy when ripe and in general appearance suggests a small red raspberry. The plant grows in shaded ravines and is native to the rich woods of the Appalachian region, the Ohio valley, and northward to southern Wisconsin. It has long been used in medicine, and in recent years to an increasing degree, so that its cultivation is now widely practised in small gardens. It requires a loose, loamy, shaded soil, a moist and cool location. When dried for commercial use the rootlets should be very carefully handled, for apart from the rootstock they have not as great commercial value as when not separated.
Golden Seal. Hydrastis Canadensis