Xanthorhiza - Growing Guide

Growing Xanthorhiza x simplicissima

Commonly known as ‘Yellow Root’

This is a spreading, clump forming, deciduous shrub from North America which has many handsome characteristics as an unusual and little known garden plant.

There are spectacular 30ft wide suckering clumps on the edges of the spring bulb lawn at the top of the Savill Gardens near Windsor. This, 40 years ago, was the inspiration for us to grow and market this plant.

The plant produces erect stems of 1-2ft in height from its creeping and spreading root system. In the wild it grows in moist woodland and on the banks of streams. The shoots or stems produce bright green leaves up to 12in long with three leaflets on each. At first they are bronze turning green later. In autumn they turn a gorgeous red purple with flashes of yellow. In a large clump this is quite a performance!

That is, however, by no means the full story. In March and April, as the new leaves appear so do clusters of drooping panicles 3-5in long of lurid purple flowers. These tiny star shaped flowers have five pointed triangular petals.

 Xanthorhiza simplicissima click for larger image
Xanthorhiza simplicissima in April
 Xanthorhiza simplicissima click for larger image
Xanthorhiza simplicissima in April

This plant is totally hardy and very easily divided by chopping up its roots in spring or autumn when it is dormant. It grows best in damp loose soil but not in a bog.

As a shrubby ground cover it has little to equal it!


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