Shade Loving Native Plants of the
United States & Canada

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Actaea Racemosa L., Black Cohosh
Actaea racemosa L. Black Cohosh
Photo Credit: suitesistertammie/Photobucket
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Actaea racemosa L.

Black Cohosh

Native Distribution Map


USDA Zones:  3 - 8

Shade tolerance: Shade, Part Shade

Moisture: Wet - moist

Height: 3' - 6’

Propagation: seeds, root division

Black cohosh is a versatile and highly ornamental perennial herb that has gotten a lot of attention for its medicinal qualities.  However, it’s good for more than what ails you.  When used as a background plant in a shade garden black cohosh makes a statement.  It is perfect for borders, bedding plants, woodland edges and water side. 

This showy plant has fuzzy spike-like cream to white flowers that can be from 6” to 24” long.  The deeply cut, green foliage has an astilbe like appearance.  Although the unpleasant scent has earned this beauty the name of bugbane, it’s still a showstopper. 

The plentiful blooms can be found from May to August, depending on the region.  It has a moderate growth rate and as wild populations continue to decline, you may want to include black cohosh for its conservation value.

Growth requirements:  Black cohosh thrives best in humus rich soils typical of woodlands.   Fine and medium textures soils that are evenly moist.  The pH range is 4.9 to 6.8 (acidic)

Benefits:  Black cohosh attracts butterflies and is the larval host for the Spring Azure butterfly.  Highly ornamental.  Black cohosh is prized as a cash crop for herbal preparations.

Care and Maintenance: 

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