Goldenseal (Orange-root, Orangeroot; Hydrastis canadensis) is a perennial herb in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae, native to southeastern Canada and the northeastern United States. It may be distinguished by its thick, yellow knotted rootstock. The stem is purplish and hairy above ground and yellow below ground where it connects to the yellow rhizome. The plant bears two palmate, hairy leaves with 5–7 double-toothed lobes and single, small, inconspicuous flowers with greenish white stamens in the late spring. It bears a single berry like a large raspberry with 10–30 seeds in the summer.
Goldenseal has been ascribed the following herbal properties (whole herb): bitter, hepatic, alterative, anticatarrhal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, laxative, emmenagogue, and oxytocic.
Goldenseal is in serious danger due to overharvesting. Goldenseal became popular in the mid-nineteenth century. By 1905, the herb was much less plentiful, partially due to overharvesting and partially to habitat destruction. Wild goldenseal is now so rare that the herb is listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) goldenseal is one of the most overharvested herbs. More than 60 million goldenseal plants are picked each year without being replaced. The process of mountain top removal mining has recently put the wild goldenseal population at major risk due to loss of habitat, illegality of removing goldenseal for transplant without registration while destruction in the process of removing the mountain top is permitted, and increased economic pressure on stands outside of the removal area.
There are several berberine-containing plants that can serve as useful alternatives, including Chinese coptis, yellowroot, or Oregon grape root. Many herbalists urge caution in choosing products containing goldenseal, as they may have been harvested in an unsustainable manner as opposed to having been organically cultivated.