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Black Cohosh

(Actaea racemosa)

Other Names:

Black Snakeroot, Bugbane, Bugwort, Cimicifuga, Fairy Candles, Rattlerroot, Rattleweed, Richweed, Squaw Root

Range:

Identifying characteristics:

Growth Type:

Smooth herbaceous perennial plant.  

Height:

Up to 2 feet tall.

Leaves:

Tripinnately compound leaves thrice divided with a coarsely toothed (serrated) margin. Terminal leaflet 3 lobed, middle lobe largest.

Stem/Trunk:

Sturdy erect single or branched stem.

Root:

Rhizome

Flower:

Season:

Late spring to early summer

Appearance:

White flowers in borne very long spikes. On a tall stem, 3'-8' tall, forming racemes up to 2' long. They have no petals or sepals, and consist of tight clusters of 55-110 white, 5-10 mm long stamens surrounding a white stigma. They have a distinctly sweet, fetid smell that attracts flies, gnats, and beetles.

Seed/Fruit:

The fruit is a dry follicle 5-10 mm long, with one carpel, containing several seeds.

Miscellaneous characteristics:

N/A

Habitat:

Rich woodlands

Parts Used:

Roots

Uses:

Wild Food Uses:

None Known

The following text is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. Always consult with a physician or other qualified medical care provider concerning the diagnosis and treatment of any illness or injury.

Medicinal Uses:

Root tincture has been used as an anti-inflammatory to treat rheumatism. It has also been showed to be highly effective when treating hot flashes associated with menopause. There is also evidence that it eases PMS symptoms as well. Historically some Native American tribes used Black Cohosh to treat snake bite. I can find no credible mention of antitoxin or anti venom actions.

Medicinal Actions:

Analgesic, Anti-Inflammatory, Antirheumatic, Estrogenic, Nervine, Tonic

This photograph taken by Sharon K.

Other photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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Revised: 02/26/12 Living Afield

 

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