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Black Cohosh Actaea racemosa

Previously known as:

  • Cimicifuga racemosa
Phonetic Spelling
ak-TAY-ah ray-see-MO-sah
Description

Black Cohosh is an upright rhizomatous perennial native to eastern North America. It is found in a variety of woodland settings from Maine south to Georgia and west to Missouri and Arkansas. It prefers rich moisture-retentive soils in partial to full shade and can be slow to get established. Ideally, it wants 2-3 hrs of morning sun. if light is too limited, it may fail to flower. Plant in an area protected from strong winds as it can grow to heights of 6 or more feet.

This plant adds a vertical accent to the back of the border of a shady cottage garden or woodland setting. The leaves are attractive and the showy flowers are followed by interesting seedheads. although the flowers have an unpleasant, somewhat medicinal odor, the seedheads are often utilized in flower arrangements. It is attractive to wildlife.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: Rust and leaf spot are occasional problems of this plant. 

 

 

More information on Actaea.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Atropurpurea'
    Burgundy leaves and stems
'Atropurpurea'
Tags:
#bees#white#perennial#white flowers#wildlife plant#shade tolerant#herb garden#fire#medium flammability#NC native#insect pest tolerant#Azure butterfly#deer resistant#native garden#native wildflower#wildflower garden#larval host plant#food source summer#food source herbage#food source pollen#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#butterfly friendly#butterfly larvae#pollinators#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Atropurpurea'
    Burgundy leaves and stems
'Atropurpurea'
Tags:
#bees#white#perennial#white flowers#wildlife plant#shade tolerant#herb garden#fire#medium flammability#NC native#insect pest tolerant#Azure butterfly#deer resistant#native garden#native wildflower#wildflower garden#larval host plant#food source summer#food source herbage#food source pollen#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#butterfly friendly#butterfly larvae#pollinators#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Actaea
    Species:
    racemosa
    Family:
    Ranunculaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Its roots and tubers were used medicinally by Native Americans. It continues to be used in herbal medicine today, although it has not been widely researched, and is not recommended as an effective treatment for any specific medical conditions. Also used to make insect repellant.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    SE USA
    Distribution:
    USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , GA , IA , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MO , MS , NC , NJ , NY , OH , PA , SC , TN , VA , WV Canada: ON , QC
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    It is a host plant for Spring Azure, Holly Blue, and Appalacian Azure butterflies.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    This plant is highly resistant to damage from deer.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 4 ft. 0 in. - 7 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 4 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herb
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Wildflower
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    White
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Follicle
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Small dry seed pods from July to September.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Hundreds of tiny fluffy-looking creamy white flowers on 1-2 foot long racemes have no petals but consist of tight clusters of many stamens surrounding a white stigma. It has an unpleasant aroma. Flowering occurs from May to August.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Obovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The basal leaves are up to 3 ft long and broad, forming repeated sets of tripinnately compound leaflets. The terminal leaflet is usually 3-lobed. Leaflets are obovate to ovate-lanceolate in outline, 2-5 lobed, with the margins toothed or incised.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    The flower stem is green to purplish
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rain Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Small groups
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer