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Green Medicine > Medicinal Plants > Stoneroot

Stoneroot

Photo of Stoneroot
Photo copyright 2000 www.stevenfoster.com
(Collinsonia canadensis)

Stoneroot is a member of the mint family, and gets its name from its extremely hard, dense, and slow-growing rhizome. Among the Iroquois and other nations of the East, the roots of this plant have a tradition of use as a stimulating remedy for ailments of the heart and kidneys, as well as for general listlessness. The leaves and root of the plant have been applied externally as an anti-inflamatory, while the leaves have been taken internally to induce vomiting. Stoneroot was once common as an herbal remedy. A manual from the early 1900s recommends it for a wide range of complaints, such as "Minister's sore throat, heart disease, diseases of the kidneys, chronic gastritis..." and a host of other conditions. It was never widely cultivated, and over-harvesting may have led to extirpation in some areas.

Today, stoneroot is not one of the most commonly seen botanicals on the health-food store shelves. Its tonic properties and historical usage, however, might lead to its being "rediscovered" some day, and this could quickly lead to a popular demand far beyond what could be wildcrafted in an ethical manner.

Cultivation: Stoneroot is not difficult to cultivate, and is sometimes grown as an ornamental. Growing it as a crop is more difficult, since it takes a long time to produce enough rhizome to make growing and harvest profitable. Seed is best sown outdoors in late fall or early spring, in a coldframe or covered flat. The plant will germinate in 8-10 weeks, and may bloom from July through September. The seedlings should be planted out when it is large enough to handle. Stoneroot thrives in areas of dappled shade and moist, acidic soil. It grows well among shallow-rooted trees such as maples. The root can be harvested in the second or third year, or later.

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Last Updated: 4/4/02