This small deciduous shrub is a member of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, that also includes anemone, columbine, and delphinium.  It is native to damp woods and stream edges in eastern US mostly in the Appalachians from New  York, south to Florida and Louisiana.  With a stoloniferous root system,  the shrub forms large colonies up 8’ wide.  The stems are sparsely branched and 1-3’ tall. Small star-like flowers dangle in chains   Small, star-like yellow or brownish-purple flowers are carried in terminal pendant panicles in early spring before the leaves emerge. The leaves are spirally arranged,  finely divided with 5 toothed leaflets,  and turn yellow to bronze or red  in the fall. Best fall color is when plants get ample sun. An excellent plant for erosion control, and wildlife habitat.   The genus name, Xanthorhiza, comes from the Greek words xanthos meaning yellow and rhiza meaning root.  The specific epithet , simplicissima, is the Latin word meaning the most/very simple.  The common name, yellowroot, like the genus name, refers to the inner bark of the plant.

Type: Shrub

Outstanding Feature: Fall color

Form: Forms colonies

Growth Rate: Rapid 

Bloom: Terminal panicles of small star-like yellow or brownish purple in early spring

Size: 1-3’ H x 4-6’ W (colonies) 

Light: Dappled shade  but tolerates full sun to full shade 

Soil: Average, moist, acidic but tolerates some drought and brief inundation 

Hardiness: Zones 3-8

Care: Cut back in early spring to keep tidy. 

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Division, root cuttings, spring shoot cuttings


Photo Credit: TheAlphaWolf, Wikipedia

By Karen