Hydrastis canadensis - L.
Other English Common Names: Orangeroot, Yellow Root, Yellow-puccoon
Other Common Names: goldenseal
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Hydrastis canadensis L. (TSN 18781)
French Common Names: hydraste du Canada, sceau d'or
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.154701
Element Code: PDRAN0F010
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Buttercup Family
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Ranunculales Ranunculaceae Hydrastis
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Hydrastis canadensis
Taxonomic Comments: Hydrastis canadensis occurs in eastern North America and is a monotypic genus. In the most current taxonomic revision Hydrastis is placed in Hydrastidaceae, with one other monotypic genus, Glaucidium, which is restricted to Japan (Tobe 2003).
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 30Nov2012
Global Status Last Changed: 30Nov2012
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Goldenseal, Hydrastis canadensis, an herbaceous understory species of the eastern deciduous forest, with the core of its range in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia (Sinclair and Catling 2000a). It extends north into Ontario, Canada and as far south in the United States to Alabama, east to North Carolina and north to Vermont.

Goldenseal may be best known for its use as an herbal supplement for a variety of health purposes, including as an immune booster and anti-inflammatory agent. Its earliest known use was by indigenous people in the eastern North America and by the 1700s it was used as a digestion aid and treatment for skin imflammation (Barton 1798). Its use is well documented from the 1800s to the present, with increasing demand through time as markets expanded beyond local usage. The species has been primarily wild-harvested, and over-collection of the plant is a predominate threat.

Concern due to over-collection is expressed at the national levels both in the United States and Canada. Since 1997, goldenseal has been listed in Appendix II of the Convention for International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to regulate international trade to ensure there is no detriment to the survival of the species in the wild. The CITES Appendix II listing requires that exporters obtain CITES permits or certificates for international export of whole, parts and powdered roots and rhizomes of goldenseal. In Canada, goldenseal is listed as Threatened on Schedule I of the federal Species at Risk Act.

Long-term decline since the beginning of its harvest history is evident, and short term trends are more localized, from declining to stable. State conservation statuses range from vulnerable to critically imperiled in the periphery of the range, to uncommon and secure in the core of its range. As of 2013, the species is state-listed as endangered, vulnerable or threatened in at least ten states. Seven of the states within goldenseal's range do not have State plant endangered species lists or protection laws.

Goldenseal, from a rangewide perspective and in a classical perspective of distribution and abundance is currently uncommon to secure, however, from a more holistic conservation perspective the extent of threats, long-term trends and short-term trends demand continuous and close monitoring in both the United States and Canada.

Nation: United States
National Status: N3N4
Nation: Canada
National Status: N2 (04Oct2017)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S2), Arkansas (S4S5), Connecticut (S1), Delaware (S3), Georgia (S2), Illinois (S4), Indiana (S3), Iowa (S3), Kansas (S1), Kentucky (S4), Maryland (S2), Massachusetts (S1), Michigan (S2), Minnesota (S1), Mississippi (S1), Missouri (S5), New Jersey (S1), New York (S2), North Carolina (S3), Ohio (S4S5), Pennsylvania (S4), Tennessee (S4), Vermont (S1), Virginia (S3), West Virginia (S3S4), Wisconsin (S2S3)
Canada Ontario (S2)

Other Statuses

Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1/Annexe 1 Status: T (05Jun2003)
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Threatened (01May2000)
Comments on COSEWIC: Reason for designation: A highly prized medicinal plant with very few small populations remaining. 

Status history: Designated Threatened in April 1991. Status re-examined and confirmed in May 2000.

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Range extent was calculated based on a map in Sinclair and Catling (2000a). Range extent is closer to 1,250,000 sq km.

Eastern United States, northward into Ontario: southern Vermont to Ontario, west to Minnesota and south to Georgia, Alabama, and Arkansas. Common in Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, and West Virginia; uncommon around the range perimeter. The central portion of its range is and was where goldenseal was the most abundant, including Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia (Sinclair and Catling 2000a). Christensen and Gorchov (2010) describe the core part of the historical range as the Ohio River Valley.

Area of Occupancy: 501-12,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: A lower end for area of occupancy was estimated based on the number of occurrences in NatureServe's database. As of 2012, there were approximately 700 occurrences in the United States and Canada documented in NatureServe's data, and an upper limit of 12,500 4-km grid cells.

Number of Occurrences: > 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: USA: 1000+ extant occurrences globally. Alabama: 14; Arkansas: 100s; Connecticut: 6, Delaware: 26;Georgia: 15; Kansas (no occurrences delineated), Kentucky: >100; Illinois: 100s; Indiana: 59; Iowa: 21; Massachusetts: 4, Maryland: 19; Michigan: 91; Minnesota: 14; Mississippi: 5; Missouri: 100s; New York: 22; North Carolina: 31; New Jersey: 2; Ohio: many; Pennsylvania: 17; Vermont: 5; Tennessee: 154; West Virginia: many; Wisconsin: >100 CANADA: Ontario (22) (NatureServe Element Occurrence data 2012). Element occurrence data not available for Virginia. Since many states do not actively track this species, and because it is clonal, population numbers are not well known. Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, and West Virginia likely have the highest number of plants.

Population Size Comments: Populations are typically between several stems to several hundred ramets (i.e. vegetative stems emerging from one parental plant) (Sanders and McGraw 2005, Sinclair and Catling 2000, Mulligan and Gorchov 2004). In Ohio, it is estimated that 62% of populations contain fewer than 200 ramets, 10% had between 200 and 1,000 ramets and 28% had more than 1,000 ramets (Mulligan and Gorchov 2004). The majority of populations in Ohio are small.
Research in West Virginia, one of the core range states, on larger-scale habitat requirements, or mesotopographic distribution patterns, found patches of goldenseal to be very diffuse across the landscape (McGraw et al. 2005).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Unknown

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Hydrastis canadensis, Goldenseal, a medicinal herb, is threatened primarily by removal of habitat, decline in habitat quality, wild-collection and deer browsing.

Habitat destruction is a primary threat throughout its range, as reported by Sinclair and Catling (2000a) only 5% of forested habitat that supports goldenseal in Canada remains, in many personal communications with Natural Heritage Botanists in 2012 and throughout New England (Tait 2006). It is surmised that local extinctions in Ohio were the result of urban sprawl (Mulligan and Gorchov 2004). The interaction and compounding intensification of over-collection and habitat loss, should not be overlooked. Albrecht and McCarthy (2006) suggest that observations by botanists of population disappearance in the early 19th century documented this co-occurrence of threats. It is also suggested that the combination of these two threats may reduce or reverse positive efforts of stewardship, or 'managed' populations (Albrecht and McCarthy 2006). It should also be recognized that the combined interaction of these threats may be increasing the rate of decline in areas of its range where these two threats are actively occurring.

Goldenseal has been cultivated for 100+ years throughout its range and historically most of the trade domestically and internationally comes from wild harvested plants (Christensen and Gorchov 2010). In recent years there has been an apparent shift. The CITES Trade Database (200-2013) indicates that much of the material in international trade, and all in 2003, which is legal is from cultivated plants. The market for goldenseal is expected to grow at a rate of 5% to 10% annually, and the market for high quality cultivated material is expected to grow 10 to 15% annually (Greenfield and David 2012).

Cultivated goldenseal makes p a large portion of domestic trade according to the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), however, the amount of wild-harvested rhizome that is collected and traded in the United States is unknown. In Indiana, collection pressure has intensified dramatically over the last 10 years, based on the number of inquiries by herbal diggers in the state (pers. comm. Indiana Department of Natural Resources). Along with the increased demand for goldenseal in Indiana, according to State officials, it is evident that herbal diggers that are harvesting wild goldenseal in July and August are also harvesting American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) outside the legal harvest season that has not yet had a chance to reproduce (pers. comm. Indiana Department of Natural Resources). Law enforcement officials in Indiana are concerned for the species due to the amount being shipped from the state, and while there are no quantitative data on population declines in Indiana (pers. comm. Indiana Department of Natural Resources), declines seem likely. Collection pressure in parts of the species' range where unemployment is high is incentivized by prices paid for wild-collected roots/rhizomes in the herbal market (McGraw et al. 2003). Studies suggest that if as little as 10% of the plants from a population are removed by collected annually, that the population will go extinct over time (Mulligan and Gorchov 2004).

Invasive species is also a threat, including pressure from both non-native plants. White-tailed deer browse is also a threat in Ohio (Mulligan and Gorchov 2004) and in other parts of the range.

Further threats as noted by state Natural Heritage Botanists:
Alabama: Incompatible forestry practices appear to be the foremost concern, with invasive species of secondary importance (Al Schotz, pers. comm., 2012).
Arkansas: Unknown (Theo Witsell, pers. comm., 2012).
Connecticut: Invasive species and canopy closure. Severity of the threats is unknown (Nelson DeBarros & Nancy Murray, pers. comm., 2012).
Delaware: Invasive species and deer browse (William A. McAvoy, pers. comm., 2012).
Indiana: Not known, but collecting and habitat destruction likely (Michael Homoya, pers. comm., 2012).
Kansas: Unknown (Craig C. Freeman, pers. comm., 2012).
Kentucky: The current threats are land conversion/development, collection, and high deer populations (Deborah White, pers. comm., 2012).
Massachusetts: This plant has never been common in Massachusetts, populations are very small and threatened by herbivory (Bryan Connolly, pers. comm., 2012)
Michigan: Collecting and habitat destruction (M.R. Penskar et al. 2001).
Minnesota: Invasive species (such as garlic mustard and buckthorn) continue to be discovered in the greater area of goldenseal's range in Minnesota. This will likely be a rising threat to populations in the long-term (Derek Anderson, Welby Smith, & Nancy Sather, pers. comm., 2012).
Missouri: Current threats are over harvesting, particularly on public land. (Malissa Underwood, pers. comm., 2012).
Mississippi: In the Loess Bluff Physiographic Province, rapid subdivision development is encroaching into the habitat of goldenseal. One population has already probably been extirpated by a "Loess Bluff Restoration Project" associated with a housing development. In the Pontotoc Ridge Physiographic Province, the private land owner is considering developing the land as a new subdivision(Heather Sullivan, pers. comm., 2012).
New York: It is collected for medicinal purposes but so far there is no evidence that it is being over-collected in New York. There is a moderate threat from habitat destruction, especially in the Lower Hudson area. Exotic species like garlic mustard and bush honeysuckle threaten its understory habitat (Steve Young, pers. comm., 2012).
North Carolina: Poaching and effects of climate change (drought, increased temperatures, wind damage, invasive species) (Laura Gadd, pers. comm., 2012).
New York: It is collected for medicinal purposes but so far there is no evidence that it is being over-collected in New York. There is a moderate threat from habitat destruction, especially in the Lower Hudson area. Exotic species like garlic mustard and bush honeysuckle threaten its understory habitat (Steve Young, pers. comm. 2012).
Ohio: Some threats include development, recreation, roads and associated maintenance, resource extraction and processing (timber, oil, renewable energy), agriculture, and non-native species (Rick Gardner, pers. comm., 2012).
Ontario: Possibly lack of disturbance at some sites (Sinclair & Catling 1998) (Michael J. Oldham, pers. comm., 2012).
Pennsylvania: Invasive species, succession (more coming in later report), and gas development (Chris Firestone, pers. comm., 2012.)
Tennessee: Timber operations and ATV trails are the main threats (Todd Crabtree, pers. comm., 2012).
Virginia: Mostly unknown, but harvest and development are likely threats (John Townsend, pers. comm., 2012).
Vermont: Invasives, development, and climate change. (Bob Popp & Aaron Marcus, pers. comm., 2012).
Wisconsin: Forest conversion is likely the largest historical threat. Forest fragmentation and development is likely the largest current threat with invasive plants and earthworm likely causing significant impacts, especially for spread by seed. Leaf herbivory is unknown, but deer populations are high in the known region. Fruit herbivory and seed destruction is also unknown, but turkeys and rodents may be causing destruction of seed or placement in inappropriate habitat. Possible threats by logging, although the level of logging in the southern part of the state where it is found is relatively low, especially in the southeast. Impacts of harvest are unknown. We do not receive any harvest data and reports of sales to ginseng dealers is erratic. It would be fairly simple to survey ginseng dealers and ask them about amounts and trends in goldenseal harvest. Dealers may also have a sense if it is generally being harvested sustainably. (Kevin Doyle, Assistant Botanist & Ryan O'Connor, Assistant Ecologist, Kelly Kearns, pers. comm., 2012).

West Virginia: Wild harvest (P.J. Harmon, pers. comm., 2012).

Short-term Trend: Decline of <30% to relatively stable
Short-term Trend Comments: It is known that the rhizome of Hydrastis canadensis is wild-collected for medicinal uses. Short term trend information is available from a few sources. There is decline in some populations due to wild-collection and habitat loss. Wild-collection in Canada is prohibited. Overall population decline is evidenced through fewer populations present, fewer patches per population, and fewer ramets per patch (Sanders and McGraw 2005). Rangewide, or state-by-state, abundance information for goldenseal is unknown, which is typical of most wild-harvested plant species (McGraw et al. 2003). Abundance and short-term trends in the core range states, in terms of both population size (numbers) and patches, is not available because it is not state-protected, and hence not monitored closely. There are studies and observations for a few jurisdictions.

Population studies in Ontario, Canada detected no declines between 1991 and 1998. Some patches may have been increasing while others were decreasing (Sinclair and Catling 2000a). The rate of expansion over several decades in Ontario is considered slight and slow, and possibly because of lack of disturbance given that populations in areas with some disturbance (greater light and nutrient resources) had highly variable growth rates (Sinclair and Catling 2002).

United States:
In West Virginia, evidence of poaching was documented near Morgantown, West Virginia (Sanders and McGraw 2005), however, it is widely known that the rhizome is collected for trade in the medicinal market.

In Ohio, a core range state, recent short-term declines of approximately 30% were detected in goldenseal (Mulligan and Gorchov 2004, pers. comm. Gorchov 2012). Of 42 sites documented in Ohio from 1977-1998, 14 of these were extirpated as of 2002, if the rate of decline is constant, approximately 1.6% of populations are expected to be extirpated each year, and approximately a 30% decline over 20 years (Mulligan and Gorchov 2004, pers. comm. Gorchov 2012).

In New York, recent studies have shown on-going extirpations as the distribution was reduced from 14 counties to 12 counties, due to habitat loss (Tait 2006).

In Indiana, another core-range state, a dramatic increase in the amount of goldenseal harvested over the past 10 years has occurred, and law enforcement officials have expressed concern for the species due to the tonnage being shipped from the state (pers. comm. Indiana Department of Natural Resources). Even though quantitative information about trends in Indiana do not exist, sharp increases in collection over 10 years suggest that a decline is very likely in this slow growing perennial. A study described the growth rate of goldenseal as 'slight' (Sinclair and Catling 2000a).

Some information about short-term trends is available from state Natural Heritage botanists. Alabama (pers. comm. A. Schotz 2012) and Ohio (pers. comm. R. Gardner 2012) have had short term declines and West Virginia (pers. comm. P. Harmon) may also have short term declines. Botanists from the following states; AR, DE, KY, MO, MS, NC, NY, PA, TN, and VT say that the species is stable to slightly declining in their state.

Long-term Trend: Decline of 10-50%
Long-term Trend Comments: Since the mid 1800s, populations throughout goldenseal's range have dramatically declined due to collection for medicinal uses and habitat destruction (Mulligan and Gorchov 2004). There is anecdotal evidence that during the 19th century as botanists noticed the decline and loss of goldenseal populations because of market demand and loss of habitat, greater pressure on managed or previously unharvested populations intensified (Albrecht and McCarthy 2006). Once-abundant populations were decimated, and the distribution of this widespread species was reduced to isolated, scattered patches (Mulligan and Gorchov 2004, CITES 1991, Lloyd and Lloyd 1884-1885 in Foster 1991, Henkel and Klugh 1904).

Loss of habitat is another primary threat both in United States (Tait 2006) and Canada (Sinclair and Catling 2000a). There are only remnants of the woodlands remaining where this species occurs in Canada: less than 5% of these forests remain from presettlement times (Sinclair and Catling 2000a). Similarly, in New England during the 1800s, forest conversion, from forested lands to agriculture and settlement, reached its height and approximately 80% of the originally forested land was lost (Tait 2006). In addition, many Ohio populations have gone extinct (Christensen and Gorchov 2010). A study by Mulligan and Gorchov (2004) assessed the status of 71 historical locations of goldenseal in Ohio and concluded that nearly half of the populations had been extirpated (13% of the extinctions were due to habitat destruction). They note that this number may be somewhat mitigated by the rate of colonization, however, that is unknown.

Finally, according to the proposal to list goldenseal in Appendix II of CITES (1997), "the decline to rarity of this species has been reiterated by numerous authors including Millspaugh 1887, Henkel and Klugh 1904, Lloyd and Lloyd 1908, Grieve 1931, Deam 1940, Fernald 1950, Hill 1952, Gleason 1968, Schery 1972, Wofford 1989, Catling and Small 1994, Elliott 1995, Foster 1991, and Foster 1995."

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Primarily a clonal species with low seed to ramet production, but with some or few seedlings advancing to higher life stages allowing for at least infrequent infusion of genetic diversity into populations via sexual reproduction by seed. It takes between four and five years for a plant to reach sexual maturity, i.e. the point at which it produces flowers. Seedlings successfully moving forward to the next life-stages may be dependent on geographic location within its range, since in Ontario seedlings were rarely observed while in Ohio seedlings were still low in number but not rare (Sinclair and Catling 2000, Christensen and Gorchov 2010).

Sexual reproduction contributes less to population growth due to low survival of seedlings: only 36% of seedlings made it to yr 2 and only 54% of these made it to yr 3, but new ramets had a 73% survival rate to the second year (Christensen and Gorchov 2010). Further inbreeding is not expected in goldenseal since it produces ramets and flowers, and is self-compatible (Sinclair et al. 2000, Sanders and McGraw 2003, Christensen and Gorchov 2010, Mulligan and Gorchov 2004).

In terms of population growth rate, Sinclair and Catling (2002) describe goldenseal's growth rate in non-harvested populations, at the northern limit of its range as slight and slow. Studies in West Virginia examining its recovery from harvest, show an initial surge in growth (increased stem number), but that few plants progressed from one life history stage to the next in following years (Van der Voort et al. 2003). This is exemplified by results in Sanders and McGraw (2005), who examined growth response to harvest. Sanders and McGraw (2005) found that ramet leaf area recovered only 34% of the orginal pre-harvested leaf-area after 2 years [leaf area in the sampling plots from year 1 to year 2 was a measure of growth and recovery].

Environmental Specificity: Moderate. Generalist or community with some key requirements scarce.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: Range extent was calculated based on a map in Sinclair and Catling (2000a). Range extent is closer to 1,250,000 sq km.

Eastern United States, northward into Ontario: southern Vermont to Ontario, west to Minnesota and south to Georgia, Alabama, and Arkansas. Common in Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, and West Virginia; uncommon around the range perimeter. The central portion of its range is and was where goldenseal was the most abundant, including Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia (Sinclair and Catling 2000a). Christensen and Gorchov (2010) describe the core part of the historical range as the Ohio River Valley.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, CT, DE, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA, VTnative and exotic, WI, WV
Canada ON

Range Map
No map available.

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AL Blount (01009)*, Franklin (01059), Jackson (01071), Lawrence (01079), Marshall (01095)*
CT Hartford (09003), Middlesex (09007), New Haven (09009)
GA Dawson (13085)*, Fannin (13111)*, Gilmer (13123), Gwinnett (13135), Hall (13139), Murray (13213), Rabun (13241)*, Stephens (13257), Towns (13281), Union (13291)*, Walker (13295)
IA Allamakee (19005), Clayton (19043), Delaware (19055)*, Dubuque (19061)*, Fayette (19065), Henry (19087)*, Jackson (19097), Jones (19105)*, Lee (19111), Louisa (19115)*, Muscatine (19139)*
IN Allen (18003), Brown (18013), Crawford (18025), Henry (18065), Jackson (18071), Jennings (18079), Johnson (18081), La Porte (18091), Lake (18089), Lawrence (18093), Marion (18097), Martin (18101), Monroe (18105), Orange (18117), Owen (18119), Perry (18123), St. Joseph (18141), Vermillion (18165)
MA Berkshire (25003), Essex (25009)*, Franklin (25011), Plymouth (25023)*
MD Baltimore County (24005)*, Carroll (24013)*, Cecil (24015), Frederick (24021), Garrett (24023)*, Harford (24025), Howard (24027), Washington (24043)
MI Allegan (26005)*, Barry (26015), Berrien (26021), Branch (26023), Calhoun (26025), Cass (26027), Clinton (26037), Genesee (26049), Ingham (26065), Ionia (26067)*, Jackson (26075), Kalamazoo (26077), Kent (26081), Lapeer (26087), Lenawee (26091), Livingston (26093)*, Macomb (26099), Monroe (26115), Oakland (26125), St. Clair (26147), St. Joseph (26149)*, Van Buren (26159), Washtenaw (26161), Wayne (26163)
MN Dodge (27039), Fillmore (27045), Olmsted (27109), Rice (27131), Winona (27169)
MS Chickasaw (28017), DeSoto (28033), Tate (28137)
NC Alleghany (37005), Buncombe (37021), Durham (37063), Graham (37075), Haywood (37087), Jackson (37099), Macon (37113), Madison (37115), McDowell (37111), Mitchell (37121), Polk (37149), Rockingham (37157), Stokes (37169), Swain (37173), Watauga (37189)*
NJ Camden (34007)*, Gloucester (34015)*, Mercer (34021)
NY Albany (36001), Bronx (36005), Cattaraugus (36009)*, Cayuga (36011), Columbia (36021)*, Dutchess (36027), Erie (36029), Genesee (36037), Herkimer (36043), Livingston (36051), Madison (36053), Monroe (36055), Rensselaer (36083), Saratoga (36091), Tompkins (36109)*, Ulster (36111), Wyoming (36121)
PA Allegheny (42003)*, Bucks (42017), Chester (42029), Delaware (42045), Fayette (42051), Indiana (42063), Lancaster (42071), Lebanon (42075), Montgomery (42091), Northampton (42095), Westmoreland (42129), York (42133)
TN Anderson (47001), Bledsoe (47007), Campbell (47013), Cannon (47015), Carter (47019), Claiborne (47025), Clay (47027), Coffee (47031), Cumberland (47035), Davidson (47037), Decatur (47039), Dickson (47043), Fentress (47049), Franklin (47051), Giles (47055), Grundy (47061), Hancock (47067), Hardin (47071), Hickman (47081), Humphreys (47085), Jackson (47087), Knox (47093), Lewis (47101), Macon (47111), Marion (47115), Maury (47119), Monroe (47123), Montgomery (47125), Morgan (47129)*, Obion (47131), Overton (47133), Pickett (47137), Putnam (47141), Roane (47145), Scott (47151)*, Shelby (47157), Stewart (47161), Sullivan (47163), Sumner (47165), Tipton (47167), Union (47173), Van Buren (47175), Warren (47177), Washington (47179), Wayne (47181), White (47185), Wilson (47189)
VT Addison (50001), Chittenden (50007)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Middle Connecticut (01080201)+, Lower Connecticut (01080205)+*, Charles (01090001)+*, Quinnipiac (01100004)+, Housatonic (01100005)+
02 Hudson-Hoosic (02020003)+, Mohawk (02020004)+, Middle Hudson (02020006)+, Rondout (02020007)+, Hudson-Wappinger (02020008)+, Lower Hudson (02030101)+, Raritan (02030105)+, Middle Delaware-Musconetcong (02040105)+, Lehigh (02040106)+, Lower Delaware (02040202)+, Schuylkill (02040203)+, Brandywine-Christina (02040205)+, Lower Susquehanna (02050306)+, Gunpowder-Patapsco (02060003)+, Patuxent (02060006)+*, Conococheague-Opequon (02070004)+, Middle Potomac-Catoctin (02070008)+, Monocacy (02070009)+
03 Upper Dan (03010103)+, Upper Neuse (03020201)+, Upper Catawba (03050101)+, Upper Broad (03050105)+, Tugaloo (03060102)+, Upper Oconee (03070101)+, Upper Chattahoochee (03130001)+, Conasauga (03150101)+*, Coosawattee (03150102)+, Oostanaula (03150103)+*, Etowah (03150104)+*, Upper Coosa (03150105)+, Tibbee (03160104)+, Sipsey Fork (03160110)+, Locust (03160111)+*
04 Little Calumet-Galien (04040001)+, St. Joseph (04050001)+, Black-Macatawa (04050002)+*, Kalamazoo (04050003)+, Upper Grand (04050004)+, Maple (04050005)+, Lower Grand (04050006)+, Thornapple (04050007)+, Shiawassee (04080203)+, Flint (04080204)+, St. Clair (04090001)+, Clinton (04090003)+, Detroit (04090004)+, Huron (04090005)+, Ottawa-Stony (04100001)+, Raisin (04100002)+, St. Joseph (04100003)+, Cattaraugus (04120102)+, Niagara (04120104)+, Upper Genesee (04130002)+, Lower Genesee (04130003)+, Seneca (04140201)+, Oneida (04140202)+, Otter Creek (04150402)+, Lake Champlain (04150408)+
05 Conemaugh (05010007)+, Lower Monongahela (05020005)+, Youghiogheny (05020006)+, Upper New (05050001)+, Middle Wabash-Little Vermilion (05120108)+, Upper White (05120201)+, Lower White (05120202)+, Driftwood (05120204)+, Muscatatuck (05120207)+, Lower East Fork White (05120208)+, Patoka (05120209)+, Upper Cumberland (05130101)+, South Fork Cumberland (05130104)+, Obey (05130105)+, Upper Cumberland-Cordell Hull (05130106)+, Collins (05130107)+, Caney (05130108)+, Lower Cumberland-Old Hickory Lake (05130201)+, Lower Cumberland-Sycamore (05130202)+, Stones (05130203)+, Harpeth (05130204)+, Lower Cumberland (05130205)+, Red (05130206)+, Blue-Sinking (05140104)+, Lower Ohio-Little Pigeon (05140201)+
06 South Fork Holston (06010102)+, Watauga (06010103)+, Holston (06010104)+, Upper French Broad (06010105)+, Pigeon (06010106)+, Lower French Broad (06010107)+, Nolichucky (06010108)+, Watts Bar Lake (06010201)+, Upper Little Tennessee (06010202)+, Tuckasegee (06010203)+, Lower Little Tennessee (06010204)+, Upper Clinch (06010205)+, Powell (06010206)+, Lower Clinch (06010207)+, Emory (06010208)+, Middle Tennessee-Chickamauga (06020001)+, Hiwassee (06020002)+, Ocoee (06020003)+, Sequatchie (06020004)+, Guntersville Lake (06030001)+, Wheeler Lake (06030002)+, Upper Elk (06030003)+, Pickwick Lake (06030005)+, Bear (06030006)+, Lower Tennessee-Beech (06040001)+, Upper Duck (06040002)+, Lower Duck (06040003)+, Buffalo (06040004)+, Kentucky Lake (06040005)+
07 Cannon (07040002)+, Buffalo-Whitewater (07040003)+, Zumbro (07040004)+, Root (07040008)+, Coon-Yellow (07060001)+, Upper Iowa (07060002)+, Grant-Little Maquoketa (07060003)+, Turkey (07060004)+, Maquoketa (07060006)+, Copperas-Duck (07080101)+*, Skunk (07080107)+*, Lower Cedar (07080206)+*, Lower Iowa (07080209)+*, Lower Des Moines (07100009)+, Kankakee (07120001)+
08 Lower Mississippi-Memphis (08010100)+, Obion (08010202)+, Lower Hatchie (08010208)+, Wolf (08010210)+*, Horn Lake-Nonconnah (08010211)+*, Coldwater (08030204)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: Hydrastis canadensis is a perennial herb with a single erect, hairy stem 20-50 cm tall. Each stem generally produces one or two cauline leaves near the top. These leaves are broadly cordate-rotund and generally 5-9 lobed with palmate venation. At anthesis, the leaves are often smaller (3-10 cm wide), shiny and wrinkled. Later in the season, the leaf may be up to 25 cm broad with a dull green color. The solitary terminal flower blooms early in the spring (late April to late May) and persist for only a few days. The flower has numerous white stamens, no petals and 3 small, quickly deciduous, sepals. The fruit is a non-edible fleshy berry (ripening to red, resembling a raspberry) which is dispersed by vertebrates. Natural reproduction is through both seed and rhizome division. The thickened knotty rhizome (usually 4-7 cm long and 0.5-2 cm wide) has a dull brown outermost layer (epidermis) and bright yellow core. The rhizome contains high concentrations of alkaloids, berberine, hydrastine, and canadine; and the leaves contain lower levels of these same alkaloids (Douglas et al. 2010).
General Description: Goldenseal is a perennial plant that grows from stems one to two feet high. Plants with single leaves produce no flowers and plants with two leaves produce flowers (Van der Voort et al. 2003). The flowers are greenish-white, made up of three sepals and many stamens and carpels which emerge in April or May. Fruits ripen between July and August. Goldeneal produces a rhizome with many adventitious roots emerging from it. The rhizome is yellowish, growing horizontally, is knotty and grows between 4-7cm long and between 0.5-2cm in width (Sinclair and Catling 2000a).
Duration: PERENNIAL, Long-lived
Reproduction Comments: Goldenseal reproduces both clonally and sexually, with clonal division more frequent than asexual reproduction. It takes between 4 and 5 years for a plant to reach sexual maturity, i.e. the point at which it produces flowers. Plants in the first stage, when the seed erupts and cotyledons emerge, can remain in this state one or more years. The second vegetative stage occurs during years two and three (and sometimes longer) and is characterized by the development of a single leaf and absence of a well developed stem. Finally, the third stage is reproductive, at which point flowering and fruiting occurs. This last stage takes between 4 and 5 years to develop (Burkhart and Jacobson 2006).

Flowers in April through May, and fruits from June through July (Eichenberger and Parker 1976, Sinclair et al. 2000). Fruit and seed set is not dependent on cross-pollination because Goldenseal has a mixed-mating system and flowers show similar fruit set whether or not pollinators were excluded (Sanders 2004, Christensen and Gorchov 2010).
In the northern reaches of goldenseal's range, in southwest Ontario, seedlings are rare (Sinclair and Catling 2000a). A study in the core portion of the range, in Ohio, found that while seedlings were far fewer than ramets, a 'substantial' number of the seedling-minority made it to the next life history stage, and ultimately represents an infusion of genetic diversity into the otherwise highly clonal population (Christensen and Gorchov 2010).
Christensen and Gorchov (2010) noted the following that seedling rarity is not due to: a) infrequent flowering, low fruit or seed set, and low seed viability.

Christensen and Gorchov (2010) provide a good, clear diagram of the life-history of this plant, including diagrams of the possible transitions, places of regression to an earlier life stage, between life stages.

Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Hardwood
Habitat Comments: In the United States goldenseal is found in rich, densely shaded, deciduous forests with good air flow and water drainage (Greenfield and Davis 2012). Light gaps and soil disturbance stimulate local proliferation (McGraw et al. 2003).

Canada: In Southwest Ontario goldenseal is limited to deciduous woodlands near floodplains and periodic spring-flooded plateaus. There only remnants of this woodland remains, less than 5%of these forests remain from pre-settlement times (Sinclair and Catling 2000).

Goldenseal grows best in rich, mesic hardwood forest, especially those underlain by limestone or alkaline soils, butis also known from slightly acidic soils too. These forests are often second growth forests with the following associates (listed alphabetically by strata): Acer rubrum, Acer saccharum, Betula lenta, Carpinus caroliniana, Carya spp., Fagus grandifolia, Fraxinus americana, Liriodendron tulipifera, Ostrya virginiana, Quercus spp., Thuja occidentalis, Tilia americana, Ulmus rubra, Cornus alternifolia, Corylus americana, Lindera benzoin, Lonicera spp., Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Toxicodendron radicans, Adiantum pedatum, Anemone quinquefolia, Aralia nudicaulis, Arisaema triphyllum, Asarum canadense, Asplenium platyneuron, Asplenium rhizophyllum, Carex platyphylla, Carex spp., Caulophyllum thalictroides, Cimicifuga racemosa, Dicentra spp., Dryopteris spp., Geranium maculatum, Hepatica spp., Hydrophyllum spp., Maianthemum spp., Mitella diphylla, Osmorhiza spp., Panax quinquefolius, Podophyllum peltatum, Polystichum acrostichoides, Sanguinaria canadensis, Trillium spp., Uvularia spp., Viola spp. Species composition will vary considerable from region to region, but some of the above associates are likely to be found. Areas with Hydrastis also tend to have a nice collection of spring wildflowers and fern diversity is also likely higher than surrounding areas.

Economic Attributes
Economically Important Genus: Y
Commercial Importance: Indigenous crop, Minor cash crop
Economic Uses: MEDICINE/DRUG, Pharmaceutical, Folk medicine
Production Method: Cultivated, Wild-harvested
Economic Comments: Goldenseal roots, plants, leaves, seeds, fruits and whole plants are sold in many forms: powdered, dried or fresh (Egert 2007). Two parts of the goldenseal plant are used for medicinal purposes: the rhizomes and leaves (or aerial parts). Rhizomes seem to be the preferred target for harvest because goldenseal rhizomes have the highest concentration of medicinally-active alkaloids, berberine, hydrastine and canadine. Leaves and stems contain lower levels of these alkaloids (Douglas et al. 2010).

Studies have found that goldenseal performs well as a yeast inhibitor, antimicrobial, antiparasitic, bile stimulant, and immune system stimulant (Bradley 1992, Benigni et al. 1962, Liu 1991, Kaneda 1991, Murray 1995, Sun 1988, Sack 1982). These properties help cure mouth and gum disorders, eye afflictions, infected wounds, bacterial or fungal infections, diarrhea, vaginitis, food poisoning, giardia, cholera, and dermatitis (e.g. Mills 1991, Murray 1995, Amalaradjou & Venkitanarayanan 2011). In a survey of AIDS/HIV patients, goldenseal was one of the products most purchased, and most recommended by health-store employees (Medical Sciences Bulletin 1995).

Studies in medical journals focused on the interaction of goldenseal with other drugs (Guo et al. 2011, Chatuphonprasert 2012, Shi & Klotz 2012, Gurley et al. 2012, Zadoyan & Fuhr 2012, and Yamaura et al. 2012) and its chemical makeup (Le et al. 2012). There is evidence of the effectiveness of it treating mycoplasmosis (Arjoon 2012), H1N1 influenza A virus (Cecil et al. 2011), cancer (Karmakar et al. 2010 and Kim et al. 2010), and growth inhibition of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)(Cech et al. 2012).

The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) is a trade association with over 200 herbal companies as members. AHPA surveys their members annually and goldenseal tonnage reports are based on these surveys (from up to 10 companies). Between 21 and 63 tons of dried rhizome and 0.1-10 tons of fresh wild rhizome were harvested each year from 2000-2010. In 1998, the AHPA recorded only 2% from cultivated sources, and this percentage increased to17-41% between 2000 - 2010. AHPA members increased procurement of cultivated goldenseal by 2-17% from 1998-2010 (Dentali & Zimmerman 2012). AHPA (2012) reported in that timeframe that 21,500 kg of the total 255,000 kg harvested were exported internationally. Since, 2003 all US exports (including roots, powder, and derivatives) are from cultivated sources according to the CITES trade database (2013).

As with other medicinal plants, the "problem" with cultivating goldenseal is that you have to wait several years to get a product. There are two methods for cultivating goldenseal: woods-cultivated and wild-simulated. Woods/forest cultivated methods require less investment, but profit earnings are unpredictable. Burkhart and Jacobson (2009) indicated that cultivating goldenseal in a forest was not profitable at a historics price of $20/pound because of the annual production cost over the multiple years required before harvest. However, if has been suggested that organic certification may be a viable option to increase profitability of cultivated goldenseal (Burkhart and Jacobson 2009).

The price for rhizomes increased from the $5/lb in the 1970s to $40/lb in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with a downturn in 2005 when growers and wild harvesters earned about $15/lb. The price per pound for leaves consistently averages half that of the rhizomes (PA DCNR 2012). In 2010, organic goldenseal farmers were earning $40/lb for rhizomes (Baker 2010). Recent information indicates that cultivated goldenseal may be garnering a higher price than wild goldenseal, with cultivated root selling for $30-35/dried pound and wild material selling for $20-25/pound (David and Greenfield 2012).

Management Summary
Stewardship Overview: Populations should be monitored for impacts related to harvest, and wild-collection is a primary threat to this species. Most populations of goldenseal are made-up of 1000 and fewer stems, and while populations may be small protecting even the smallest should be considered. Goldenseal maintains a mixed-breeding system and is able to self-pollinate to produce fruit, as well as produce sterile stems (non-flowering) that are genetically identical to other stems in the same patch (Christensen and Gorchov 2010, Sanders 2004). Since goldenseal is capable of self-pollination to set fruit, even small populations can be long-lived, and can act as sources of genetic variability for other nearby populations (Sanders 2004). Further, populations in small areas should be considered for conservation based on research that showed that goldenseal responds favorably to light and soil disturbance, and larger populations were associated with small habitat area (Sinclair and Catling 200b). A genetic study in North Carolina showed that while higher levels of genetic diversity were measured within populations, that genetic and allelic diversity was low across populations suggesting that reintroductions into populations would not likely cause outbreeding depression (Torgerson 2012).

Studies show that the best measure of past collection is the number of fertile (Sinclair and Catling 2000, Christensen and Gorchov 2010) and large sterile plants (Christensen and Gorchov 2010) from year to year, as these two life classes are responsible for maintaining or proliferating population size.

Data collection on environmental conditions such as temperature, precipitation and soil nutrients should be maintained over the life of any monitoring program. Buds for next year's stems are formed in summer or fall (Sinclair and Catling 2000) and spring growth is likely linked with the size of the flower bud and a determiner of whether plants will reproduce vegetatively or sexually in a given year (Christensen and Gorchov 2010). Growth is dependent on precipitation and temperature, and in one study high levels of soil nutrients (especially phosphorus) promoted growth of young stems (Sinclair and Catling 2000).

Other data related to the habitat should also be collected, such as percent canopy cover and soil displacement by animals and uprooted trees since goldenseal positively responds to mild disturbance, particularly light gaps and some soil disturbance (McGraw et al. 2003). Management and monitoring of patches should be done based on changes in leaf-area from year to year, and not stem count. Results from illicitly harvested patches in West Virginia show that leaf-area was immediately and negatively affected compared to pre-harvest leaf-area, and that stem-counts do not clearly relate to pre-harvest numbers (Sanders and McGraw 2005). Finally, if populations are harvested, the time of year this takes place should be noted. Albrecht and McCarthy (2006) found that fall-harvested populations may recover faster than those harvested in the mid-summer.

Success in monitoring and managing population dynamics is dependent on the knowledge of the data collectors and program managers, since understanding the reproductive life history of this plant is critical (i.e. it is known that large sterile (non-flowerig) plants transition back and forth from fertile plants) for accurate tracking of population health and viability. Further, managers should know the local phenology pattern of the plant from emergence to senescence. Detailed information about the life history of goldenseal is available in Christensen and Gorchov (2010), general biology and complexities associated with management are provided in Sinclair and Catling (2000), and diagram of the root (used in medicinal compounds) available in Van der Voort et al. (2003).

Population/Occurrence Delineation
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Any naturally occurring discrete population defines an occurrence.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: .5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 1.5 km
Separation Justification: There are no data to suggest minimum distances between occurrences but we suggest at least 0.5 kilometers of unsuitable habitat or 1.5 kilometers of suitable but unoccupied habitat as separation distances between individual occurrences. Individual stems are generally found in clumps or clusters, with clumps ranging from a handful of stems to over a thousand stems. The typical clump range appears to be between 70 and 500 stems. Distinct clumps with continuous suitable habitat should be considered sub-populations of one large single occurrence, assuming there is no more than 1.5 kilometers between clumps.
Date: 14Jan2000
Author: Weldy, T., and S. Young
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 29Apr2013
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Oliver, L.
Management Information Edition Date: 03Dec2012
Management Information Edition Author: Oliver, L.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 29Apr2013
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Oliver, L. and A. Treher

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

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