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Native Plant of the Week: Black Cohosh

Family: Ranunculaceae


Name: Actaea racemosa - Black Cohosh


Bloom Time: July - August


Flower: White


Soil Condition: Average-moist-rich-acidic


Light: Partial Shade - Shade


Height: 36-60" tall x 24-48' wide


Native Range: Eastern North America including Long Island


Zone: 3-8

Black Cohosh aka Bugbane is a fantastic addition to a shady garden. The interestingly fragrant flowers are an added bonus to this stately perennial. It does take some time to mature, usually about 5 years, so have patience. The seedpods are an added ornamental bonus in the winter landscape or in a vase arrangement.


Maintenance: add compost to the soil as it prefers organically rich soil. Rust and leaf spots are occasional problems.


Benefits: Host plant to spring azure butterfly, rabbit resistant, usually deer resistant, nectar source, pollinators including beetles, bees, wasps and


Fun Facts: The common name, bugbane, refers to the odoriferous insect-repellant properties of this plant. The roots are used to treat various ailments by indigenous peoples, although the top growth is poisonous.


Companion Plants: Stylophorum diphyllum (Celandine Poppy), Dicentra eximia (Fringed Bleeding Heart), Polemonium reptans (Jacob's Ladder), Carex species (Sedges)


Photos: Top: great black wasp and bald-faced hornet on flower (KMS Native Plants), Bottom: form (H. Zell, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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