‘Goldenseal’ Charms and Heals in the Garden

| 5/11/2016 9:20:00 AM

Tags: herbalism, medicinal plants, home remedies, groundcover, shade gardening, garden planning, goldenseal, Barry Glick, West Virginia,


“Golden” will be the first word to enter your mind when you see the roots, rhi­zomes and dormant buds of Hydrastis canadensis. You’ll understand imme­diately why the common name is 'Goldenseal.' This very useful native woodland plant will not only charm and entertain you spring, summer, and autumn — it can even heal you.

Medicinal Properties of Goldenseal

Well, I’d better be careful not to play doctor here, though many Native American tribes were aware of the pow­erful medicinal benefits of Goldenseal quite a long time ago. The Cherokee used it as a cancer remedy, which is one of the earliest observations of the occurrence and treatment of cancer among American Indian groups.

Another important historical use of Goldenseal root was as an eye wash for various eye problems, such as conjunctivitis. The Iroquois found it beneficial as a bitter stomach digestive to help stimulate digestion and improve appetite, and to treat skin inflammations. Other uses include relief for inflammation of the mucous membranes of the throat.

I will say that I’ve used it successfully to ease the pain and hasten the heal­ing of sore throats and to treat cold and influenza symptoms. I made a tea from dried roots and have to admit that it was one of the most bitter tastes I’ve ever experienced. However, the results were well worth it and it was more pal­atable than taking overprescribed, and most likely ineffective, antibiotics.

Growing Goldenseal in Your Garden

Hydrastis canadensis is native to almost every state east of the Mississippi and will grow happily in just about any soil conditions. I would guess that hardiness and heat tolerance are USDA Zones 4 to10. I grow Hydrastis canadensis in several places in my gardens, from full shade to dappled sunlight. It makes a wonder­ful groundcover as the 6- to 12-inch leaves on 6- to 12-inch plants overlap and shade out weeds.

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