Yellowroot (Xanthorhiza simplicissima)
Identification: This low-growing deciduous shrub can grow up to 36 inches. The erect, unbranched woody stem bears leaves and flowers only on the upper portion. The leaves are usually divided into 3 to 5 leaflets, on long stalks, leaves cleft, toothed. The flowers are small, brownish purple in drooping racemes. The flowers have 5 petals, 2-lobed with gland like organs on a short claw. The fall leaf color
is yellow, bronze, and orange.
Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)
Other Names: Poor Man’s Goldenseal
Flowers: April – May
Parts Used: Root
Habitat: Rich, damp woods along stream banks. From New York to Florida; Alabama to Kentucky. Yellowroot is most frequently found in streamside environments, where it thrives in the moist, cool alluvial soil and spreads quickly, forming dense thickets.
History: Yellowroot gets its name from its long, bright yellow root, which is a common ingredient in folk remedies. Historically, yellowroot has been used to treat everything from ring worm and dysentery to diabetes and high blood pressure, (hypertension).
American Indians used a tea for stomach disorders, colds, jaundice, cramps, sore mouth or throat, menstrual disorders, astringent; used externally for cancer and piles.
Yellowroot was formerly used as an adulterant to or substitute for Goldenseal, though 19th century physicians believed its medicinal action was quite different than that of Goldenseal.
Antinflammatory, Astringent, Hemostatic, Antimicrobial, Anticonvulsant, Immunostimulant (stimulates the immune system), Uterotonic.
The chemical constituent “Berberine” stimulates the secretion of bile and bilirubin and may by useful in correcting high tyramine levels in patients with liver cirrhosis.
The sticks of the root have been chewed to aid in quitting smoking and it is believed that yellowroot produces a transient drop in blood pressure.
Warning Warning! Yellowroot is potentially toxic, especially in large doses.