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Black Snakeroot Actaea racemosa

Other Common Name(s):

Other plants called Black Snakeroot:

Previously known as:

  • Cimicifuga racemosa
Description

Actaea racemosa, commonly called black cohosh, is an upright, native perennial. It typically grows to a total height (foliage plus flowering spikes) of 4-6’, but under optimum conditions can reach 8’. Its rootstocks are used medicinally.

The common name of bugbane is in reference to the odoriferous insect repellant properties of this plant. Cohosh comes from an Algonquin word meaning rough in reference to the appearance of plant rhizomes.

Synonymous with and formerly known as Cimicifuga racemosa. All plants in the genus Cimicifuga have recently been transferred to the genus Actaea.

Regions:  Mountain, Piedmont

Seasons of Interest: 

  Blooms:  Summer            Nut/Fruit/Seed:   Late summer 

Wildlife Value:  This plant is highly resistant to damage from deer.  It is a host plant for the Azure butterfly.  

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: Rust and leaf spot are occasional problems of this plant. Its foliage generally does not need staking, but taller flower spires may need some support. Flower spires tend to bend toward bright light, particularly when plants are grown in substantial shade. Leaf margins may brown up (scorch) and growth may slow down if soils are not kept consistently moist.

Season: Summer, fall

Site: Black cohosh is easily grown in average, medium moisture soils in part shade to full shade. It prefers humusy, organically rich, moisture-retentive soils. The foliage tends to scorch and otherwise depreciate if soils are allowed to dry out. Best sited in locations sheltered from strong winds. This is a slow-to-establish plant.

Cultivars:
Tags:
#native#white#butterflies#perennial#white flowers#herbs#wildflowers#shade tolerant#host plant#insect pest tolerant#Azure butterfly#deer resistant
Cultivars:
Tags:
#native#white#butterflies#perennial#white flowers#herbs#wildflowers#shade tolerant#host plant#insect pest tolerant#Azure butterfly#deer resistant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cimicifuga
    Species:
    racemosa
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Its rootstocks are used medicinally.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Wildlife Value:
    This plant is highly resistant to damage from deer. It is a host plant for the Azure butterfly.
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    This plant is highly resistant to damage from deer.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herb
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Wildflower
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
  • 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 Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Black cohosh has small, numerous, creamy white, fragrant flowers that appear in late summer to early fall in long, terminal racemes resembling fluffy spires (typically 1-2’ long) rising well above the foliage on wiry stems. Each flower consists largely of a tassel-like group of white stamens with a pistol in the center. It has no true petals. Sepals drop off as the flower opens. This plant has small, dry seed pods. The flower has an unpleasant odor.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    Black cohosh has Astilbe-like, deeply cut, tripinnate foliage and is an attractive deep green. It has a slender stem with 2 or 3 large compound leaves. Its leaflets are mostly egg-shaped, rounded or somewhat pointed at the base. It is cleft or sharply toothed on the margins.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Problems:
    Poisonous