How, When and Why of Forest Farming Website


Common NameGoldenseal
Latin NameHydrastis canadensis
Varietynone named 
Visual Traits
Flowerwhite, daisy like, small in clusters, very early, as soon as plant emerges in spring
Foliage/Fall leaf colorleaves with 3 to 5 lobes, doubly serrate, yellow fall color
Fruita berry, several in a cluster red, resembles a red raspberry somewhat
Height12 inches
Other valued traitsmedicinal, contains at least two recognized medicinal alkaloids, ie. Hydrastine and beribedcinbe
Spread12 inches but forms colonies up to 3 or 4 foot wide or even wider
Cultivation and Mulchingmulch with leaf litter
Field preparation and plantingprepare raised beds, provide shade
Field spacing / planting depthroot cuttings spaced at least one foot apart in beds or rows 3 feet apart
Hardwood CuttingsNA
Harvestafter 4 years or so
Pollinationself but also small bees
Propagation methodmostly root cuttings but also seed (seed is tricky)
Retail Sourcemany
Seed harvestin fall from ripe red berries
Seed treatment and storagerequire cold stratification and needs to stay moist
Seedling treatmentprotect from slugs
Softwood cuttingsNA
Sowing seedin fall, tiny black seed
Training / TrellisingNA
Transplantin fall
Watering guidelinesNA
Insect and invertebrate pestsslugs, flea beetles,
Toxicitycan be toxic if ingested in large quantities due to alkaloid Hydrastine
Wildlife Pestsdeer
Compaction (tolerance)little
Fertility / qualitymoderately fertile
Moisture and drainagemoist, fertile, well drained
pHoptimal 6.5
Salt tolerancelittle
Soils and topographyNA
Texturesandy loam to clay loam
Growth Pattern
Fruit bearing age / full crop loadflowers at four years or more from seed, flowers every year when grown from root division
Good seed crop interval (fruit load)annual bearing
Growth ratemoderate on good sites
Longevityclumps spread for four years and then die out in center, similar to Iris in this regard
Root habitrhizome, thick, fleshy bright yellow in color
Habitat and Climate
Hardiness Zone4,5,6,7,
Native RangeFrom Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas north to Vermont and Minnesota
Rainfall / humidity35-55 inches
Wind / ice / frost susceptibilitysomewhat frost tolerant in spring, less so in fall
Light recommendationmottled sun or partial shade ( 65% to 75% shade)
Shade tolerancehigh
Vegetation Associations
Competitive abilitygood with native species
Indicator speciesblack cohosh, paw paw, ginseng, rattlesnake fern, bloodroot, spice bush