Thursday, July 07, 2011

A black cohosh by any other name

Today’s photo is of the flower of the black cohosh, a name that is meaningless when you look at the flowers. Black cohosh has more common names than you could shake a stick at. Black snakeroot, bugbane, bugwort, rattleroot, rattleweed and squawroot are just a few.

This year I have the plant all over the place, including many plants along the edge of my driveway, where I took this photo. It is native to North America and is one of those alleged to cure a multitude of ills. It is considered to be a plant suited to mainly women’s ills, mostly for menopause symptoms, but also for some more general uses, often for arthritis.

Since there’s nothing black about the flower or the leaves, I’m guessing the root, which is what is used for medicinal purposes, must be black, though I’ve never pulled one up out of the ground to check. Personally, I prefer the name rattleweed since the flower resembles a rattlesnake’s tail more than anything. The names bugbane and bugwort are accurate, too. Bugs don’t like this plant for some reason.

I just like the way the flowers look. The flowers are not the common shape of flowers, and each rattle is about 4-6 inches long, so it’s a showy plant too. And this year there are plenty of them around to see.


Scott said...

Got lots and lots of them here this summer, too, Carolyn. I like the plant a lot because it's tall and assertive, in addition to sporting interesting flowers. Despite the "bugbane" moniker, bumblebees do visit the flowers.

Woodswalker said...

I've been trying to grow Black Cohosh in my garden for several years, but it keeps getting shaded out by other surrounding plants. Yours seems to have pushed everything else out of its way, and looks very healthy.

Cathy said...

I don't have that here in my area. Unless that whats growing in front of the library. Is it pretty big?

Carolyn H said...

Scott: Black cohosh is definitely NOT a shrinking violet. I've seen bees on mine too, at least occasionally.

Woodswalker: I live deep in the shade of the forest canopy and even plants that need "partial" shade don't do well at my place abd I have black cohosh all over the place, so I would guess that your problem isn't too much shade.

Cathy: Yes, they are a pretty big plant, probably 3 feet tall.

Cicero Sings said...

Interesting flower. We don't have the plant in my neck of the woods.