Goldthread. Coptis trifolia (L.) Salisb.

Figure 57.—Goldthread (Coptis trifolia)

Other Common Names

Coptis, cankerroot, mouth root, yellowroot.

Habitat And Range

Goldthread is found in damp, mossy woods and bogs from Canada and Alaska south to Maryland and Minnesota. It is most common in the New England States, northern New York and Michigan, and in Canada, where it frequents the dark sphagnum swamps, cold bogs, and the shade of dense forests of cedars, pines, and other evergreens.


This plant, which in its general appearance somewhat resembles the strawberry plant, is of low growth, being only 3 to 6 inches in height. Its shiny, evergreen leaves, which are divided into three parts, grow directly from the base of the plant. A single small, white, star-shaped flower, which appears from May to August, is borne at the end of each flowering stalk. The plant is appropriately named after the long, slender, creeping, much-branched and frequently matted, bright golden-yellow root.

Part Used

The root, collected in autumn.