The botanical name of Goldenseal is Hydrastis canadensis L. and the plant is a highly valued medicinal herb which has been collected from the forests in North America for hundreds of years. The plant is suitable for growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 to 8.


Goldenseal Seed Propagation

Actually the propagation of goldenseal from seed can be a little bit difficult with unpredictable results. The germination rates of purchased goldenseal seed, which has usually been stored in moist sand in a cooler or buried in the soil, can range from 0 to ninety percent the first spring after seed harvest. In an effort to develop methods to obtain reliable germination rates, seed handling studies were conducted by researchers for several years. In the first study they actually found that the best germination rates is the first spring after seed harvest were obtained when seeds were quickly extracted from the fruit using a sieve method. The goldenseal seeds were then stored in moist sand at seventy degrees Fahrenheit until sowing in late fall. This treatment actually resulted in an average germination rate of about thirty-seven percent (range twenty-five to eighty-eight percent). For many of our treatments, the goldenseal seed did not germinate until the second season after seed harvest. The highest germination rates the second season were from the seed that were extracted from the fruit by the sieve method, held at seventy degrees Fahrenheit for thirty days followed by forty degrees Fahrenheit until planting or held at forty degrees Fahrenheit. In both cases, the goldenseal seed were planted the spring after seed harvest and germinated 2 seasons later. Average germination rate with this method was about forty-five percent (range thirty to seventy-one percent). Over the years we have consistently found that the immediate planting of the seed after extracting it from the ripe fruit results in the highest germination.


Seed Sowing

The plant spacing actually depends on how long you intend to leave the plants in the ground before harvesting. If you actually intend to harvest after them 3 years of growth you can space the goldenseal plants 6" apart in rows that are 8" apart; after four years, plant 8" apart in rows that are 8" apart; or more than four years, plant 8" apart in rows that are 10" apart. Make sure you cover the rootstock with 2" of soil. Also keep them well-weeded, but take care in weeding around the young plants in other to avoid disturbing the roots. Once the goldenseal plant is well established you can easily apply mulch to prevent weed growth.


Light requirement

The goldenseal plant actually grow best in its natural habitat under a hardwood canopy with at least seventy-five percent shade, comprised preferably of maple, oak, sycamore, or basswood trees.



The goldenseal plant actually prefers a light loam soil that has high humus content and a pH of 5.5-6.5. Good drainage is very important to ensure healthy goldenseal plants.



The goldenseal plants grown from root divisions can be harvested after 3 to 5 years of growth. You can easily harvest the roots in the fall (September or October) after the tops have actually died back.

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