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Goldthread (Canker Root) (Coptis trifolia, groenlandica)

Of the Buttercup family, the goldthread is a small plant which lies upon the forest floor. It has a solitary white flower. It has evergreen basal leaves rising from a thread-like, yellow underground stem. The flowers are small and white with fussy centers. And while there is only one flower per plant, the plants patch together, so, likely, the trail-walker will come upon quite a number of them together usually in an area where the clintonia and wild lily-of-the-valley gather. The leaves are divided into three leaflets with scalloped, toothed margins. We have seen the goldthread on May 24th along the MicMac Lake Trail, Dartmouth. They continue to flower through to July.
The elongated yellow roots of the goldthread, from which use it takes its name, had a use for the aboriginals as a thread for bead work. Medicinally it was used by the Indians and the early colonists to treat mouth sores, natures dental floss. Boiled goldthread root was used as a tonic.

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Peter Landry

(2011)