Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Suppport the plant database you love!


Plant Database

Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

Enter a Plant Name:
Or choose a plant family:
Prenanthes alba (White rattlesnakeroot)
Beckers, Eric

Prenanthes alba

Prenanthes alba L.

White Rattlesnakeroot, White Rattlesnake-root, White Lettuce

Asteraceae (Aster Family)

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. Lion's 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

6 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Biennial
Habit: Herb
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Aug , Sep


USA: 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 Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Well-drained soils.
Conditions Comments: Not Available


Use 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


Description: 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.

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2021-05-18
Research By: TWC Staff

Go back