The scientific classification of Goldthread is Coptis groenlandicum. This plant is spread through rhizomes, or underground stems that sprout new leaf clusters on the already established roots.
Goldthread is a small fragile evergreen plant that is a member of the buttercup family. It has bright golden threadlike roots and of course that is where the name comes from. Each stem of the rhizome base is divided into three leaves that have toothed, scalloped margins. The leaves are less than an inch and a half wide.
Eastern Goldthread is slightly shorter than Western Goldthread. The eastern variety of the Goldthread plant grows from Quebec all the way south to North Carolina. It ranges from three to five inches tall. The blooms have from five to seven thin petals that will fall off and leave behind a green sepal that grows into a star shaped capsule. This capsule contains a tiny black seed. The part of goldthread that is above ground comes from the thin roots that form a network of rhizomes .
The Native American used the goldthread to make tea and to chew. Goldthread can be used for thrush and mouth sores, This has given it two of its other common names, the mouth root and the canker root. Digestive disorders, jaundice, worms and blood problems are also said to be helped by using Goldthread. Berberine, an alkaloid that has antibacterial qualities has been used in some medicines.
The high demand for Goldthread has made it a rare plant for many years. Unless Goldthread can be cultivated in larger quantities it runs the risk of becoming extinct. In order to successfully grow new Goldthread plants in cultivated gardens it must be moved with the rhizomes and root systems intact and they must have an adequate amount of the dirt that they grows in with them. They need the nutrients that exist in the “old” soil. They need to be placed in areas fertilized with forest compost that mimics their natural habitat.
Many people have attached mystical or magical qualities to the Goldthread. It is a plant that needs to be cared for, and respected for it to survive. Whether or not an individual believes in myths or magic, it is still important to recognize that humans need to tread lightly or run the risk of destroying the Goldthread and other beneficial plants on the earth. Humanity would be much poorer if they should lose these wonders of nature.