Long ago in the days of the French explorers, LaSalle built a fort above the Illinois River near the Peoria Indian village, and named it Fort Creve Coeur because of the heartbreak he found there. And there in the virgin forest of the Illinois country, up there where the bill sheered abruptly away to descend to the river and where the fort looked far across the Illinois wilderness, the plants called golden seal blossomed in April.
Hydrastis canadensis L.
Goldenseal long ago was used as a tonic; the yellow roots were medicinal and were known in the earliest days of the pioneers as a medicine to dig in spring. Perhaps La Salle's Frenchmen knew it; or perhaps they knew nothing of it. The goldenseal blossomed and spread its broad, veiny leaves, and the years went by, one by one, in the forests of the Illini. Fort Creve Coeur fell into ruin. LaSalle died in the far-away Texas country. The Indians were pushed further and further away into the west and Illinois became a state, became populated by people from the south and the east. The forests were cut, but many woodlands remained, and there each spring the goldenseal came up and bloomed and spread its veiny leaves. It is there today. In the woods near the site of the old Fort Creve Coeur the photographer came upon the goldenseal.
Goldenseal rises from a thick yellow rootstock and has a stout hairy stem bearing two palmately lobed leaves near the summit. The stem terminates in a single flower which has no petals but is a simple whorl of white stamens which last but a short time. The fruit is like a deep red raspberry. Goldenseal formerly was found throughout the state, but has been almost exterminated by drug-plant collectors.