Golden Seal

Botanical Name: Hydrastis Canadensis Family: Ranunculaceae

Common name(s): Goldenseal, Puccoon Root, Yellowroot


  • Perennial; herbacious woodland plant | Zones 3-9 | 10 – 15 inches | Greenish white flowers in spring, red berries in summer
  • Fairly dense shade. PH of 6-7 (will not grow well near oaks or evergreens).
  • Moist humus soil. Moderate water.
  • Propagate by root divisions in the fall, 6 – 8 inches apart, 1/3 inch deep. Propagation by seeds is possible, but more difficult and requires stratification and sprouting.


  • Harvest the rhizomes in the fall (not spring) of the 4th – 6th year. The leaf can also be harvested but it’s not as potent.


Decoction: Simmer 1 teaspoon root in 1 cup boiling water for 10 – 20 minutes. Very bitter, tincture or capsule form is usually preferred.

Tincture: 5-30 drops.

Roots can also be dried and ground to a powder and used in poultices.


Constituents: hydrastine, berberine, resins, volatile oil, flavonoids, chlorogenic acid

Actions: alterative,antibiotic, anti-inflamatory, aperient, astringent,bitter,hemostatic

Uses: Fighting and treating infections, particularly those of the mucous membranes of the respiratory, digestive, reproductive systems, and skin. It is a common ingredient in washes and topical treatments for eye and vaginal infections, skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, and as a mouthwash for sore mouth / gums.

Combinations: can be paired with echinacea to help fight off infections.

Cautions: It should not be taken during pregnancy, for some cases of hypertension, and from people suffering from anemia or hypothyroidism. If mucous membranes become irritated, discontinue use.


  • Bitter, cold


  • *The Way of Herbs, Michael Tierra
  • Homegrown Herbs, Tammi Hartung (directions for growing from seed)
  • Medicinal Herbs, Rosemary Gladstar (recipes for topical applications)
  • photo credit: tgpotterfield via photopin cc

I wandered my property this past year taking pictures of plants. I haven’t identified all of them yet and there is one that looks similar to goldenseal but has rounder leaves. Sarsaparilla abounds on my forest floor but not sure about goldenseal. This year I’ll be hunting for it specifically (and potentially planting some)!