Flowers of Life Root plant, Squaw Weed - Senecio Aureus syn. Packera Aurea

Medicinal Use of Life Root, Squaw Weed – Senecio Aureus syn. Packera Aurea


Upright perennial growing to 3 ft (1 m). Has lance-shaped leaves and clusters of yellow daisy-type flowers.

Habitat & Cultivation

Native to eastern North America, life root is found in marshes, and on damp ground and riverbanks. The aerial parts are gathered in summer.

Parts Used

Aerial parts.


Life root contains a volatile oil, pyrrolizidine alkaloids (including senecine, senecionine, and otosenine), tannins, and resin. In isolation, the pyrrolizidine alkaloids are highly toxic to the liver.

History & Folklore

The North American Catawba people used life root to treat gynecological problems in general, and to relieve labor pains in particular.

Medicinal Actions & Uses

Until recently, life root was employed in Anglo-American herbalism much as it was in earlier times—as a means to induce menstrual periods and to bring relief to menopausal complaints. Today, the plant is recommended only for external use, as a douche for excessive vaginal discharge.

Related Species

Ragwort (S. jacobaea) has traditionally been used as a poultice or lotion to relieve rheumatic aches and pains.


Do not take life root internally. The plant is subject to legal restrictions in some countries.