Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Xanthorhiza simplicissima

A genus of just one plant native to damp forests of the eastern U.S. ( Ohio to Massachusetts to coastal Maine; south to eastern Texas to far northern Florida ). It is related to the larger Buttercup family. It is a small, dense, suckering, deciduous shrub typically reaching around 2 feet in height but can cover a wide area with its creeping rootstock.
Some records include: 4 years - 7 foot width ( usually less than half that on average sites ); largest on record - 5 x 8 feet.
It is an EXCELLENT native groundcover in damp shade though on some sites with light soil it may even become invasive. A high quality groundcover that does not die out in the center.
The very attractive foliage is among the first of all plants to appear in the spring and the pinnately compound leaves up to 15 inches in length are clustered near the tips of the shoots. The 3 to 5 deeply-toothed leaflets, up to 3.2 inches in length are bronze-purple at first in spring turning to glossy bright green during summer. The leaves turn to spectacular red and purple late in autumn.
The small, deep purple flowers are borne in drooping panicles to 4 inches in length that appear with the emerging foliage in early spring.
The wood and the roots are bright yellow.
Hardy zones 3 to 9 on moist, fertile, acidic soil in sun or shade. It is even hardier to zone 2 in regions with consistant winter snowcover and has even been reported to survive - 55 F! The Yellowroot is both flood and moderate drought tolerant but it is recommended to keep it mulched since it does like it's soil cool. Very easy to grow; it is also clay and full shade tolerant. Propagation can either be from seed or division.

* photo taken on May 5 2010 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

* photos taken on August 3 2010 @ University of Guelph Arboretum, Ontario

* photo taken on Aug 20 2011 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

* photos taken on Apr 24 2016 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC

* photos taken on Aug 5 2017 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

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