Goldthread (Coptis trifolia ) LC

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sliced Chinese goldthread root. Photo by X. Zhang


Goldthread is a perennial herb growing from slender bright yellow to orange rhizomes. Goldthread grows in wet coniferous and mixed forests, bogs, willow scrub and tundra, in areas include Japan, China, Korea, Eastern Siberia and North America [1].

Historical importance

Goldthread, like all photoberberin dyes, is used as a direct dye, in a hot dye-bath, to obtain a bright golden yellow on silk or wool. The Micmac of the Gaspe peninsula and Acadia boiled the rhizomes to dye yellow [2]. The French settlers in Canada adopted this dye for their woolen cloth [3]. Japanese used Coptis japonica as a traditional dye.

Summary of results

Analytical instrumentation and procedures


Absorbance at 350nm (mAU)

Sample information

sample information, By R. A. Laursen, Boston University

Identified compounds

Compound RT (min.) MW UV/vis Other
Berberine 38.8 335 344,424 Major compound
Palmatine 38.8 351 344,424 Co-elute with Berberine, could be detected with extracted ion mass.
Jatrorrhizine 34.3 337 352,458 Major compound
Coptisine 34.3 319 352,458 possible


[1] Cardon, Dominique. "Natural dyes, sources, Traditions, Technology and Science" 331 (2007).

[2] Whitehead, R. H. (1982) Micmac Quillwork; Micmac Indian Techniques of Porcupine Quill Decration, 1600-1950. Halifax: Nava Scotia Museum. p. 68;

[3] Yamazaki K. The illustrated book of dye plants, vol. 1 (1985/2002). pp. 46-7.