Goldenseal is a rare find

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Goldenseal is a native woodland plant found in parts of southeastern Canada and northeastern United States. Once widespread and common, its range is diminishing. Today goldenseal is most prevalent in the Appalachian and Ozark mountains.

American Indians once used the parts of this plant for medicinal purposes. Even today its yellow roots are sometimes harvested for medical use. This has lead to overharvesting of wild goldenseal, whose roots once brought a premium price in the marketplace.

Recent scientific studies have revealed that goldenseal is not the magically effective antibiotic herb it was thought to be. Still, it does have some medicinal value when use as a topical dressing for skin wounds and sores.

Wild goldenseal ranks as one of the most endangered medicinal plants in North America.

The delicate inconspicuous white flower with its green center will turn into a red raspberry-like fruit and seed cluster by mid summer.

The plant I photographed was about one foot tall with a hairy stem and a single leaf immediately below the flower. Since goldenseal in the wild is considered a rare find, please do not harm it if you come upon it while walking in the woods.

Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the O'Tenem Gallery.

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