Actaea racemosa

Black Cohosh

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Black cohosh has 2- to 3-foot black stems with wands of white flowers that grace the back of shady perennial borders. It spreads by seeds in moist, shady, and peaty woodland soils. The fruits are toxic, and if the plants are not cut back in winter the previous year's dried stalks will grace the garden the following spring. The cultivars Brunette and Hillside Black Beauty are part of the Cimicifuga atropurpurea group commonly called bugbane. Beautiful 1 - 2-foot long flower spikes wave in the breeze; it is a natural beauty.

There are over 35 different species of bugbane or Actaea, spanning Europe, Asia, and North America. They're generally woodland plants, happiest in dappled shade and cool, consistently moist soil. Most form mounds of toothed leaves and then in mid-summer send up spikes of tightly packed flowers, often followed by conspicuous berries. NOTE: Berries are poisonous to people and rabbits; harmless to birds and butterflies.

Plant Shape
Partial Shade, Full Shade
Bloom Time
July - August, September - October
Bloom Color
Landscape Use
Bedding or Border, Specimen Plant, Groundcover, Understory
Wildlife Interest
Attracts Butterflies, Resistant To Deer, Native to Midwest
Plant Type
Hardiness Zone
3 - 8