YELLOWROOT

FAMILY: Ranunculaceae | GENUS: XANTHORHIZA simplicissima

TYPE
  • Shrubs
  • Deciduous
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Full Sun
  • Partial Shade
WATER
  • Regular Water
PLANTING ZONES
  • US (Upper South) / Zone 6
  • MS (Middle South) / Zone 7
  • LS (Lower South) / Zone 8
  • CS (Coastal South) / Zone 9

Plant Details

This species from the eastern U.S. is the only one in its genus. Grows naturally in moist woodlands and along streambanks, reaching 13 feet high and 5 feet wide; can spread more widely by suckers. Attractive leaves to 10 inches long comprise three to five oval, pointed leaflets with irregularly toothed edges. Foliage emerges bronzy purple in spring, matures to bright green in summer, then takes on yellow and finally red-purple tones in autumn. In spring, just as leaves emerge, look for hanging, 4 inches-long clusters of tiny brownish purple flowers. Common name refers to bright yellow roots, which were used by Native Americans to make a dye.

Good ground cover beneath trees and shrubs but can overwhelm smaller plants; a root barrier may be needed to keep it in its place. Excellent for transitional areas between sun and shade and between wet and dry.

Grows in most soils and is not bothered by pests or diseases. Prune lightly to maintain attractive shape; or cut back hard in early spring if plants become ragged. Easy to propagate by division in spring.

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