Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Yellow Root
Xanthorhiza simplicissima

Family: Ranunculaceae (ra-nun-kew-LAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Xanthorhiza (zan-tho-RISE-uh) (Info)
Species: simplicissima (sim-plih-KISS-ee-muh) (Info)

5 vendors have this plant for sale.

7 members have or want this plant for trade.

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18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Partial to Full Shade

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Maroon (Purple-Brown)

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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4 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive sladeofsky On Jan 13, 2015, sladeofsky from Louisville, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:

This often overlooked US native shrub is a perfect addition to the woodland garden or used to soften more formal plantings in the shrub border. Once established it slowly spreads by root suckers. I have seen some old specimens in the wild that attain a gnarly irregular habit and that may be useful to up the wild effect in your garden. I think it's greatest potential is as a medium height groundcover. Clip the plant to about 6" in Spring to create a more uniform blanket effect. They tend to have few or no branches, except on larger older plants, but even branched specimens seem to favor the central stem over side shoots. It seems to take root competition in stride and I have one under a maple making this a good native substitute (or addition to) the ubiquitous Vinca, Ivy, and Winter Creeper which one normally sees in such situations. It also has fairly good fall color, usually pale yellow, but sometimes splashed with other hues. The dissected leaves also add nice contrast to large or more rounded leaf forms. It also does very well on steep banks and may be useful in helping to prevent erosion. I suspect that it is hardier than zone 6, since it has a habit too come up from the root. I have never experienced Winter damage whatsoever. I imagine that there is probably a northern frontier of its habitable growing areas where it would act as a shrubby perennial. While this plant is more of a supporting actor on the garden stage, it is unique, interesting, and a tough workhorse. It will be a valued member of your garden if you give it a try. I'm also a sucker of monotypical genera. If a variegated sport ever arises, please let me know. That could be amazing,

Positive Ted_B On Oct 16, 2014, Ted_B from Birmingham, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

Relatively easy to grow. Succeeds in either sandy or rich well-drained garden soils.

Succeeds in anywhere from full shade to at least partly sunny positions.

Not very particular to soil moisture, although seems to do best when soil isn't allowed to become too dry.

Can be found growing on the banks of sandy, shaded creek bottoms. Stem cuttings from wild plants are easily propagated when inserted into garden soil with a touch of rooting compound. Even if they appear dead, they will often eventually sprout new foliage in 30-60 days with patience and minimal care.

Called 'yellow root' due to its berberine content, which is historically of medicinal value, and also found in the roots of Mahonia, Hydrastis, Berberis, etc.

Neutral skidz On May 16, 2013, skidz from Wetumpka, AL wrote:

This plant is listed as poisonous. However, the root is mentioned by many sources as a useful herb especially for digestive issues. It has been recommended to me by two herbalists to treat an H. Pylori infection and a web search will confirm several studies suggesting that is is safe and effective.

Positive crimsontsavo On Apr 10, 2008, crimsontsavo from Crossville, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

A new discovery for me and I looove the airy maroonish blooms. They are so pretty and airy.

Positive Charlotteda On Apr 2, 2005, Charlotteda from Pickens, SC (Zone 7a) wrote:

This native plant grows in semi shade along our streambank.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Birmingham, Alabama
Clanton, Alabama
Cullman, Alabama
Louisville, Kentucky
Mc Dowell, Kentucky
Jackson, Missouri
Harrison, New York
Hendersonville, North Carolina
Roseville, Ohio
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Pickens, South Carolina
Andersonville, Tennessee
Crossville, Tennessee (2 reports)
Hood, Virginia

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