Xanthorhiza simplicissima, commonly called yellowroot, is a deciduous, suckering, spreading shrub native to forested stream banks and other moist woodland areas in portions of the eastern and southeastern United States. The stems are upright, unbranched, and somewhat leggy in appearance, reaching between 0.5-2.5' tall and topped with a cluster of leaves. The compound leaves can reach up to 7" long and have five, toothed leaflets, making them somewhat similar to celery leaves in appearance. A drooping, branched panicle of small, dark purple-maroon flowers appears in spring from the bases of the leaf clusters. Bronzy-yellow fall color can be quite showy. Crushing the roots and stems produces a yellow dye. The roots have been used traditionally to treat various aliments of the digestive and circulatory systems.
Easily grown in evenly moist, acidic, humusy, well-draining soils in part shade. Will adapt to a wide variety of soil conditions including wet, dry, or clay. Will also adapt to various sun conditions ranging from part sun to full shade. Tolerant of drought once established. Alkaline soils can cause chlorosis. Can spread indefinitely in ideal conditions. Concrete walkways and metal edging can help contain its spread. Will also spread less readily in full sun and drier soils. Hardy in Zones 3-9.