Goldenseal, known botanically as Hydrastis canadensis, is a perennial herb that is known colloquially as eyebalm, eyeroot and yellowroot, among other names. It is a low-growing plant with small, green-white flowers that bloom in the early spring and then produce small red berries. The plant grows and spreads by underground rhizomes, the flesh of which is yellow in hue. The herb is native to North America and is naturalised, but is most often cultivated for commercial and personal use. When planted from seed, goldenseal requires five years to develop into a mature plant, making rhizome divisions the preferred propagation method. The dried leaves, stems and rhizome are all used in a wide range of folk and homeopathic remedies.
Source goldenseal seed from speciality herb, health food or homeopathic medicine seed suppliers online or at a local store in your area. On occasion, some large mainstream seed suppliers also stock the seed and they can be ordered via the supplier's website or through the seed catalogue by mail or by telephone. Organically reared versions of the seed are also widely available. Order seeds in the spring or summer in advance of fall planting.
Purchase freshly harvested goldenseal roots for plant propagation or for use in medicinal preparations from small dealers that specialise in the product. Speciality dealers help to ensure fresh and healthy roots. Many sellers also offer fully organic goldenseal root, if you prefer it.
Buy live goldenseal plants in pots with the root intact from online nurseries and local herb farmers. The plants are typically shipped in the late summer or early fall for immediate planting. Depending on the supplier, the roots can be one or two years old or older, and organically reared plants are also on offer.
Consumed in its fresh raw state, all parts of the goldenseal plant should be considered poisonous as they can cause severe reactions, paralysis and even death.