Cimicifuga racemosa

Black Cohosh  Snakeroot Fairy Candles

Names and Myths

Cimicifuga Latin cimex a bug, fuga a flight.2 Bane comes from the Anglo-Saxon bana, which means destroyer, it was given to plants that were repellant to the animals mentioned. 1 Cohosh from an Algonquin word meaning pointed Co-os = pine tree Cohosh refers to the spikes of the flowers.6

Natural history / Folklore

Black snakeroot - remedying gout, amenorrhea, and rheumatism. When ripe the dry seeds rattle in the pods resulting in the common names of rattleweed, and rattletop29, used by some tribes to treat snakebite. They also used it to relieve menstrual pain, and during childbirth, Hutchens notes that it should not be used by pregnant women.41 Fetid-smelling flowers rubbed on the skin served as an insect repellant, but the fetid smell is to attract flies and other eaters of carrion which are its chief pollinators.6


June - August  Small white flowers on stalks up to 3 feet above divided leaves. The plant can tower to 8 feet in height. 44  Flower parts indistinguishable. Conspicuous stamens, petal-like sepals that fall early result in a fuzzy look to the flower.14 Rich sandy soil of Hardwood forests

Species List Family Group
Previous Study Next