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Bruso, George H.
Prenanthes alba L.
White rattlesnakeroot, White rattlesnake-root, White lettuce
Synonym(s): Nabalus albus
USDA Symbol: PRAL2
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
Tall, slender perennial with white or pinkish drooping flower heads in clusters along the stem; smooth stem, usually purplish with whitish bloom, has milky juice when crushed. Ranges from 1 1/2-5 ft. though usually 2-3 ft. tall. Stems and leaves are bluish-green. Loose terminal flower clusters. Flowers are white or yellowish and sometimes purple-tinged.
The name Rattlesnake-root suggests the plant was used as a remedy for snakebite. A bitter tonic was made from the roots and thought useful in treating dysentery. This is one of several species of Rattlesnake-roots, all of which have drooping flower heads, distinctly lobed leaves, and milky juice. Lions Foot (P. serpentaria) is similar but has white bristles on its fruit and the stem lacks bloom. Gall-of-the-earth (P. trifolioliata) has very deeply divided 3-part leaves and a waxy reddish stem. Tall White Lettuce (P. altissima) has only 5 main bracts surrounding the flower heads. Smooth White Lettuce (P. racemosa) has pinkish flowers in a spike, clasping elongated leaves, and yellow bristles.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Biennial Habit: Herb Flower:
Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Aug , Sep
, WV Canada: AB
, SK Native Distribution:
W. Que. to Sask., s. to NC, LA
& n.e. SD Native Habitat:
Moist, open woods; shady roadsides; thickets
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Well-drained soils.
Conditions Comments: Not Available
common name, rattlesnake root, suggests the plant was used as a remedy for snakebite. A bitter tonic was made from the roots and thought useful in treating dysentery. (Niering) Conspicuous Flowers:
PropagationDescription: Not Available
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
Record Last Modified: 2012-08-20
Research By: TWC Staff