Appalachia Granny

Granny’s Yellow Root Scarf


Yellow root

When Granny was a girl getting wood was a never ending chore. Her brothers had an old wheelbarrow they’d fill with wood. To make it easier to carry into the house they’d rigged up a ramp out of old planks so that if they got a good run and go, along with a little help, they could push the wood all the way to the door of the house.

One day the younger kids were running around playing in the yard when Granny’s brother, George, was bringing in wood. As he started towards the handmade ramp he yelled for someone to help push. Granny was the littlest, but she came running to help. Just as she grabbed a hold of the side of the wheelbarrow George said he didn’t need her to help. Somehow in the process Granny fell and busted her head open.

Granny said she remembered the pain of the cut and the blood, but mostly she remembered her mother Gazzie going to the creek for yellow root.

Gazzie soaked a piece of cloth in water steeped with yellow root.

Granny said “Mother made the prettiest yellow scarf to tie up my head. That’s what I remember most.”


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  • Reply
    Camilla Poindexter
    February 10, 2020 at 9:13 pm

    My Grandma made yellow root tea for us .

  • Reply
    aw griff
    January 24, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    My wife uses an extract of yellow root called berberine for her diabetes 2 and it works good for her. I gave it a try and it kept me awake all night. I have used goldenseal (yellow root) for heart palpatations and it stops them immediately.
    There used to be a big patch of yellow root on our farm but someone dug all of it.

  • Reply
    R. U. Alrite
    January 24, 2019 at 11:42 am

    We used a a wheelbar** to get in wood too. We’d tie a rope to the front and one would pull while the other one pushed. If there happened to be a third youngin, he would walk alongside and help balance the load. You could move quite a bit of wood that way but crashes were common. We’d just stack it back up and go again. I don’t remember anybody ever getting hurt. We made the girls and the smaller kids stay back. I remember making siren sounds with my mouth to warn people in the path. We kinda made a game out of a chore!

    **Wheelbar is how we said it. Still do! We dropped the “row” at the end because we pushed it. If we rowed it, it would be a boat. Some people call it a wheelbarrel. I don’t know which is right but the abbreviation “wheelbar” works in either case.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2019 at 11:14 am

    Hearing about Yellow Root seems so familiar to me. After Mom had to move from her home, she mentioned a patch of Yellow Root on occasion. She did not mention because of its medicinal value, but because it was not easily found and had more worth than most anything else that grew on the farm.
    Once I recall taking a trip back with my parents to where my Dad grew up, and her eagle eye spotted ginseng. He mentioned the huge logs still lying about, and proceeded to describe the size and amount of American Chestnut trees that once stood there. It was a good day, and I was able to chew a bite of ginseng. I wish I could have done more adventures with my parents, but the workaday world took over my life.
    Mom always picked wild greens every Spring, and we were able to drink many glasses of Sassafras tea. She once even baked some dandelion roots which made a tasty drink much like coffee.
    So great to see Ethelene on here. I have missed her poetry!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2019 at 10:09 am

    I remember being sick when I was small and my Granny making yellow root tea for me. It was nasty tasting. I can’t remember if I got better just that the tea tasted very bitter.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2019 at 10:04 am

    I’ve heard of it Tipper but never used. It’s amazing how God put all kinds of plants here for medicine. It’s out there, we just gotta find it and know how to use it. God Bless!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2019 at 9:44 am

    It was my job to get the stove wood in by the time I was about 4 years old. Dad got the fire wood – it was too heavy for me. I was probably 7 or 8 before I could handle the heavy wheel barrow. By the time I was 10 I also had to cut the stove wood from slabs brought in from the nearby sawmill as well as get all the wood in. I stacked some on the porch every Saturday for the week because when I got the milking done and animals fed it was dark at the wood pile.

  • Reply
    Ethelene D. Jones
    January 24, 2019 at 9:20 am

    What memories the story of Granny and the Yellow Scarf brought of bringing wood from our woodpile at our Choestoe home into the house. We didn’t do it by wheelbarrow or a makeshift ramp. We sometimes carried a basket with two side handles full of stovewood between us–my brother and I. But the fireplace sticks had to be carried one at a time unless it was small “kindling” wood. Then we could carry an armload or a basketfull. The larger logs, like the back log and the front log, were left to the “bigger and stronger” toters in the family. What a beautiful story of Granny’s yellow scarf to hold on the yellow root herbal emollient to heal her head wound! We mountain people “made do” with what we had.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      January 24, 2019 at 10:32 pm

      Nice to see you here again Ethelene! I worry when I don’t see a comment from you at least once a week!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2019 at 9:14 am

    My older cousin claims yellow root tea is the only thing that has helped his ulcers throughout the years. Not only does it make pretty scarves, it is said to be the best medicine for a very painful condition that prescription drugs didn’t help.

  • Reply
    Carolyn & David Anderson
    January 24, 2019 at 8:54 am

    Yellow Root is also used for a medicine for the stomach. An old Indian lady told us they use to use it as a mouth wash and eye wash. We keep a jar of tea made from yellow root in the refrigerator for different uses. Very good natural medicine.
    I have made tea from yellow root for years to give to my friends and family when they were having problems with stomach, mouth, etc.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    January 24, 2019 at 8:31 am

    I didn’t know it was used for wounds. I know it is suppose to be good for digestive problems and other ailments if you make a tea from it. I always look for it around streams. I thinks it’s a very interesting plant.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 24, 2019 at 8:06 am

    The things kids remember! Still, I’ll bet that yellow root did make a pretty color yellow for a headband.

    I could get interested in natural dyes without trying too hard. I would really like to see an authentic butternut color made from walnut hulls. And I have long thought about making a Georgia dirt shirt. (One big advantage would be I could never get it ‘dirty’.) And whether real or imagined I have the idea that lichens can be used to make a dye. Does JCCFS have a natural dyes class I wonder?

    Thing is I know color is only part of it. There has to be a fixative to make it colorfast.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2019 at 7:58 am

    Yellowroot, Xanthorhiza, is good stuff. I’ve made me a little patch in the back yard since I’m getting too old to scramble down to the creek to get it. You don’t need to dig up the roots to use it, the stems will work just fine.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 24, 2019 at 7:29 am

    There was no medicine in a tube from Walmart back them. I guess we’ve made progress since then, but sometimes I wonder!

  • Reply
    Sheryl A Paul
    January 24, 2019 at 7:24 am

    Herbal treatments have slways fascinated me. What is the yellow root she used

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