The flower bud is protected by three sepals which are shed as the flower opens. Many people imagine the stamens to be petals and are led astray in their attempts to properly identify this plant.
Flowering plants develop an elongated stem with a pair of alternately placed leaves. The lower leaf is the larger of the two.
A single bloom is located at the top of the stem.
Non-flowering specimens have a single leaf at the top of the stem. People often mistake the non-flowering plants as being May-apples.
Look for this plant in upland woods with deep soils. Many Goldenseal populations have been decimated by people collecting the plant for its supposed medicinal properties. The plant contains a variety of different alkaloids and is considered toxic.
Photos taken on April 30, 2011 in Adams County, Ohio.