Hydrastis canadensis L.


Hydrastis canadensis plant

Family - Ranunculaceae

Stems - To 25cm tall, from thick rhizome, hirsute, (at least in upper portions), herbaceous, with only two leaves.

Hydrastis canadensis stem

Leaves - Two, alternate, double or triple serrate, pubescent above and below. Lower leaf petiolate, 5-11 palmately lobed, to +10cm broad, +8cm long. Petiole hirsute, to +2cm long. Upper leaf sessile, typically smaller than lower leaf.

Hydrastis canadensis leaf

Inflorescence - A single flower per plant, terminating stem.

Flowers - One, apetalous. Sepals 3, shed at anthesis. Stamens many(+50). Filaments white, glabrous, thicker at apex than base, to 1mm thick, 8-9mm long, curved. Anthers yellow, to 1mm long. Peduncle to +2cm long, thick, hirsute. Fruit a sub-globose cluster of red berries, to 1.3cm broad.

Hydrastis canadensis flower

Hydrastis canadensis fruit Fruiting plant.

Flowering - April - May.

Habitat - Rich slopes, woods, ravines, thickets.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This is a fairly common plant which is often dug for medicinal reasons. The plant contains different alkaloids and was used in folk medicine to combat everything from cancer to stomach aches. It is, however, toxic and should not be eaten. Please admire the plant for its beauty and don't pick it!

Photographs taken at the Current River Conservation Area, Ripley County, MO., 7-4-01, and at Whetstone Conservation Area, Callaway County, MO., 4-27-04.