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NPIN: Native Plant Database

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Caulophyllum thalictroides (Blue cohosh)
Vick, Albert F. W.

Caulophyllum thalictroides

Caulophyllum thalictroides (L.) Michx.

Blue cohosh, Squaw-root, Papoose-root, Caulophylle faux-pigamon

Berberidaceae (Barberry Family)

Synonym(s):

USDA Symbol: cath2

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

Spreading and bushy when mature, blue cohosh is a large, many-stemmed perennial, 1-3 ft. tall. Thrice-compound leaves with lobed leaflets are purplish in spring. Inconspicuous, purplish-brown to yellow-green flowers in a loosely branched cluster. Clusters of flowers are followed by conspicuous, bright-blue berries.

The six stamens and central pistil of this early spring flower mature at different times, assuring cross-pollination. The petals bear fleshy nectar glands that are visited by early solitary bees. The ovary is eventually ruptured by the developing seeds within it; the seeds are thus exposed, an unusual condition among flowering plants. The seeds have reportedly been used as a coffee substitute, but may also be toxic. The foliage resembles meadow rues (Thalictrum), hence the species name.

 

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Blue
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Apr , May

Distribution

USA: AL , AR , CT , DE , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NS , ON
Native Distribution: N.B. to s.e. Man., s. to New England, SC mts., TN & AR
Native Habitat: Deciduous & mixed woods

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Rich, moist, well-drained soils
Conditions Comments: A heavy wintercoat of mixed leaves should be left on plant in the spring.

Benefit

Warning: The berries, roots and leaves of this plant may cause skin irritation if touched, and the raw berries may be poisonous to children if ingested. POISONOUS PARTS: Raw seeds, roots. Low toxicity if ingested. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea. Toxic Principle: Alkaloid and saponins. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Propagation

Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Scarifing seeds by nicking the seed coat will hasten germination.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

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
Sunshine Farm & Gardens - Renick, WV
Enchanter's Garden - Hinton, WV
American Native Nursery - Quakertown, PA
Prairie Nursery - Westfield, WI

From the National Organizations Directory

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

Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
* Available Online from Wildflower Center Store

Bibliography

* 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

Additional resources

USDA: Find Caulophyllum thalictroides in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Caulophyllum thalictroides in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Caulophyllum thalictroides

Metadata

Record Modified: 2012-10-03
Research By: TWC Staff

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