The four species of Goldthread that live in the U.S. are C. aspleniifolia, C. laciniata, C. occidentalis, and C. trifolia.
Goldenthread, canker root
- fernleaf goldthread (C. aspleniifolia)
- Oregon goldthread (C. laciniata)
- Idaho goldthread (C. occidentalis)
- three-leaf goldthread (C. trifolia)
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family)
Goldthread plants flower in early summer and afterward produce several seeds in capsules. Little published information actually exists on the seed dispersal of Goldthread plants, though it has been documented that new plants are almost always found within 60 meters (195 feet) of a mature plant. They also produce long, gold-yellow rhizomes that are easily used as a method of propagation.
Coptis species are found primarily in Canada and the northern portions of the U.S. Plants in the genus can be found in California, Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mayland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. They can also be found in Greenland, every Canadian province, and the Canadian territory of Nunavut.
Goldthreads prefer moist, acidic soil and full shade. They grow primarily in mossy coniferous and mixed forests, but they can also be found in swamps and tundras.
Status of Endangered/Threatened (by state):
C. aspleniifolia is listed as “Sensitive” in Washington, one of only two states this species grows in.
C. trifolia is listed as “Sensitive” in Washington and is “Endangered” in Maryland.
No species of Coptis native to the U.S. have been evaluated by the IUCN Red List.
Part of Plant Used/Active Medicinal Compounds:
Goldthread rhizomes were used historically primarily as an oral remedy for sore mouths, especially for teething babies. It was also used as a general cold medicine, for coughs and sore throats. It is used by modern herbalists to settle the stomach.
Recommendations For Industrial and Home Use:
Please use Coptis responsibly, and talk to your doctor before using goldthread or any other medicinal plant. If you can, purchase either cultivated goldthread or wild-harvested species that haven’t been listed as being at-risk.
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EFloras. (n.d.). Coptis. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA. Retrieved September 12, 2019, from http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=107946
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USDA. (n.d.). Plants Profile for Coptis (Goldthread). Results compiled from multiple publications. Retrieved September 11, 2019, from https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=DROSE