Hydrastis canadensis (Golden Seal)
|Also known as:
|part shade, shade; rich woods, ravines, thickets
|6 to 20 inches
|Wetland Indicator Status:
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):
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A single flower at the tip of the stem, ½ to ¾ inch across, no petals but with about 50 spreading, white stamens with pale yellow to green tips surrounding a small mound of green carpels. The 3 pale sepals drop away when the flower opens.
Leaves and stems:
A single basal leaf withers away by flowering time. A pair of alternate stem leaves is just below the flower. Leaves are up to 4 inches across at flowering time, expanding to 10 inches across in fruit, deeply palmately lobed with 5 or more primary lobes which may be further lobed. Leaf edges are singly or double toothed.
The uppermost leaf is stalkless or nearly so, the lower stem leaf has a stalk up to 2 inches long. Stems are erect and unbranched. Stems and leaf surfaces are covered in spreading hairs. Small colonies may be formed from thick, yellow, spreading rhizomes.
A rare species in Minnesota, Golden Seal reaches the northwest edge of its range in our southeast counties and the yellow, knotty roots are a hot commodity in the herbal medicine trade. While it has never been common in the state, according to the DNR, wild populations are diminishing across its range, partly from habitat destruction, but also due to exploitation from illegal harvesting. It was listed as a MN Endangered Species in 1984 and is currently listed as Special Concern in Wisconsin. It is easily identified by the pair of hairy, palmately lobed leaves and the single, petal-less flower or raspberry-like fruit at the tip of the stem.
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in a private garden in Anoka County. Photos courtesy Christopher David Benda taken in Illinois.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?