Herb: Beth Root

Latin name: Trillium erectum

Family: Trilliaceae

Medicinal use of Beth Root:

Beth root was traditionally used by various native North American Indian tribes as a woman's herb to aid childbirth, as a treatment for irregular menstrual periods, period pains and excessive vaginal discharge. Modern research has shown that the root contains steroidal saponins, which have hormonal effects on the body. These saponins are being used in gynaecological and obstetric medicine. This herb should not be taken during pregnancy except under professional supervision. The root is antiseptic, aphrodisiac, astringent, expectorant, tonic, uterine tonic. It is used internally in the treatment of a wide range of women's complaints including haemorrhage from the uterus, urinary tract and lungs, and also to curb excessive menstruation. It has proved to be of value in stopping bleeding after parturition. Externally, it is used to treat excessive vaginal discharge, ulcers (especially varicose), skin complaints, gangrene, insect bites and stings. It is also used as a wash for sore nipples. The root is harvested in late summer, after the leaves have died down, and is dried for later use. The whole plant is used as a poultice for tumours, inflammations and ulcers.

Description of the plant:


40 cm
(1 foot)

May to


Habitat of the herb:

Rich soils in damp and shady woodlands.

Edible parts of Beth Root:

Leaves - raw or cooked. Used in spring, the young unfolding leaves are an excellent addition to the salad bowl, tasting somewhat like sunflower seeds. Leaves can also be cooked as a potherb.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown in a shaded cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Stored seed should be sown in late winter or early spring. Seed usually germinates within 1 - 3 months at 15C. Another report says that seeds produce a root after the first cold stratification but no shoot is produced until after a second winter, whilst yet another report says that the seed can take 3 years to germinate. The seedlings are prone to damp off and must therefore be watered with care and given plenty of fresh air. The young plants need to be overwintered in a cold frame for the first year and can then be planted out in late spring. It is very important that the pots become neither too dry nor too wet. Division with care when the plants die down after flowering. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is best to pot up smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse or cold frame until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the following spring.

Cultivation of Beth Root:

Rich soils in damp and shady woodlands.

Known hazards of Trillium erectum:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.