Prenanthes alba L.
White Rattlesnakeroot, White Rattlesnake-root, White Lettuce
Asteraceae (Aster Family)
Synonym(s): Nabalus albus
USDA Symbol: PRAL2
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.
From the Image Gallery
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Aug , Sep
DistributionUSA: AR , CT , DC , DE , GA , IA , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , NC , ND , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SD , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: AB , MB , ON , QC , 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
BenefitUse Medicinal: The alternate 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: yes
PropagationDescription: Not Available
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes
National Wetland Indicator Status
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Prenanthes alba in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Prenanthes alba in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Prenanthes alba
MetadataRecord Modified: 2012-08-20
Research By: TWC Staff