Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Actaea racemosa var. racemosa

Black cohosh, Black bugbane, Bugbane, Black snakeroot, Fairy candles

Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Actaea racemosa var. racemosa (Black cohosh)
Muller, Thomas L.
A large, bush-like plant, 3-6 ft. tall, with compound, toothed leaves and long candles of tiny, white, fuzzy flowers.

Image Gallery:

18 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Size Notes: 3 to 8 feet tall
Flower: Flowers in 6 to 24 inch spikes
Fruit: Tan
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug
Bloom Notes: Blooms for 2 to 3 weeks, beginning in May near the coast and in June in the mountains.


USA: AL , AR , CT , DE , GA , IL , IN , IA , KY , ME , MD , MA , MI , MS , MO , NJ , NY , NC , OH , PA , SC , TN , VA , WV , DC
Canada: ON , QC
Native Distribution: W. MA to s. Ont. & WI, s. to GA & n. AR; escaped in n. & e. New England; Coastal plain to 4000 ft in mountains. Zones 5 to 7
Native Habitat: Rich woods & woodland openings

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Moderately acid, humus-rich loam. Can grow in acid over lime.
Conditions Comments: Best light is an hour or 2 of morning sun.


Use Ornamental: White summer flowers for shady spots.
Use Medicinal: The bad odour of this plant is repellent to bugs, which accounts for the common and genus name. The root was used in the 1800s to treat various conditions, ranging from snakebite and lung inflammations, to the pains of childbirth. (Niering)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Spring Azure

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Actaea racemosa var. racemosa is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Spring Azure
(Celastrina "ladon" )

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Last Update: 2013-09-09