Hydrastis canadensis is a perennial herb to 50 cm, slowly colonial from a knotty rhizome, stem hairy, sap yellow.
Leaves, one basal, two alternate stem leaves, to 25 cm after flowers bloom; broadly heart-shaped, deeply 5-lobed, lobe tips pointed, veins palmate, base lobed, margins coarsely double-toothed.
Flowers greenish-white, solitary, no petals, 3 sepals deciduous when flower opens, stamens numerous; blooms April-May.
Fruit red, fleshy, forming a small head.
Wetland status: UPL.
Frequency in NYC: Rare. (NYS S2, T). One site known in NYC.
Habitat: Deep, rich, undisturbed woods. Tolerant of shade.
Notes: All parts moderately poisonous. Toxins are Isoquinoline alkaloids (Russell et al. 1997). Plant is endangered by extensive collection form the wild for medicinal purposes. Small amount now grown commercially. Listed by CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (2007) and USDA, ARS National Germplasm Resources Laboratory (2007).