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Actaea racemosa

Object Details

Description
This shade-loving, understory plant has tall, eye-catching spikes of white flowers in the summer. The name cohosh comes from an Algonquin word meaning rough, in reference to the appearance of the underground stems of this plant. Another of this plant’s names, bugbane, references its strong odor, which can repel insects.
Hardiness
-40 - 20 F
Attracts
Host plant for larvae and butterflies of spring azure (Celastrina ladon), holly blue (Celastrina argiolus), and appalachian azure (Celastrina neglectamajor). Attracts birds.
Bloom Time
June to July
Medicinal / Pharmaceutical
Native American have used this plant to treat gynocological issues, musculoskeletal pain, fever, cough, pneumonia, and sluggish labor. Colonial Americans used this plant in a general tonic to for women's reproductive health. Black cohosh has been studied several times, and it shows both promise, and adverse side effects if misused.
Provenance
From a cultivated plant not of known wild origin
Range
SE Canada to N Central and E USA
Habitat
Rocky woods
Topic
Display Gardens
Living Collections
See more items in
Smithsonian Gardens Display Collection
On Display
National Museum of the American Indian
Data Source
Smithsonian Gardens
Accession Number
2022-0564A
Restrictions & Rights
CC0
Common Name
Black cohosh
Black snakeroot
Bugbane
Group
[vascular plants]
Class
Equisetopsida
Subclass
Magnoliidae
Superorder
Ranunculanae
Order
Ranunculales
Family
Ranunculaceae
Genus
Actaea
Species
racemosa
Life Form
Herbaceous perennial
Bloom Characteristics
Terminal racemes covered in fluffy, white flowers. Spikes are 1-2' (30-60 cm) long and last about 3 weeks.
Foliage Characteristics
Compound, alternate, ripinnate foliage is deeply cut and green. Leaves are up to 3' (90 cm) long. Leaflets are
Fragrance
Unpleasant; repels bugs.
Fruit Characteristics
Small, dry, brown, green, and white seedpods from July to September.
Plant Size
4-6' tall x 2-4' wide (1.2-1.8 x .6-1.2 meters)
GUID
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ax7630dd0af-0075-4d43-8207-0c65de46383b
Record ID
ofeo-sg_2022-0564A
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