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NPIN: Native Plant Database

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Actaea racemosa var. racemosa (Black cohosh)
Muller, Thomas L.

Actaea racemosa var. racemosa

Actaea racemosa L. var. racemosa

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

Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Synonym(s): Cimicifuga racemosa

USDA Symbol: ACRAR

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

A large, bush-like plant, 3-6 ft. tall, with compound, toothed leaves and long candles of tiny, white, fuzzy flowers.

 

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.

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
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.

Benefit

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

Propagation

Propagation Material: Root Division , Seeds
Description: Propagate by division in spring or fall or plant seeds outside in fall. Seedlings take one or two years to germinate; three or four years to flower.
Seed Collection: Approximate collection date in northern U.S.: mid Sep. to late Oct.
Commercially Avail: yes

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Edge of the Woods Native Plant Nursery - Orefield, PA
Amandas Garden - Springwater, NY
Sunlight Gardens - Andersonville, TN

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College, The - Valhalla, NY
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Natural Biodiversity - Johnstown, PA
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
* Available Online from Wildflower Center Store

Bibliography

Bibref 928 - 100 easy-to-grow native plants for Canadian gardens (2005) Johnson, L.; A. Leyerle
Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
* The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1994 VOL. 11, NO.6 - Wildflower Center Featured Non-Profit in Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, Dana Leav...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Actaea racemosa var. racemosa in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Actaea racemosa var. racemosa in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Actaea racemosa var. racemosa

Metadata

Record Modified: 2013-09-09
Research By: TWC Staff

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