A plant of many common names, black cohosh is also called black snakeroot, or bug bane. Which ever name you prefer it is a wonderful plant. This plant grows to a stately 3 to 8 feet creating a dramatic effect in the garden. The foliage itself only gets about 3 feet tall but the tall flower stalks shoot up above the plant. The flowers themselves are so white they illuminate the area in which they grow. The foliage is attractive and neat, the leaves are sharply toothed and twice divided into three leaflets. The leaves are very similar to doll's eyes (Actaea pachypoda) but the plant grows much larger.
Black cohosh prefers to grow in full shade to dappled shade. I have seen a stand of it growing under oak trees in the wild and it was truly a magnificent sight. Black cohosh prefers a moist soil rich in organic matter but will do fine in a dryer organic soil.
Black cohosh is the larval food for the Spring Blue Azure butterfly . The flowers also attract a lot of different insects that feed on its nectar. Joe-pye weed makes an excellent companion for black cohosh as do ferns and woodland ground covers such as wild ginger and green-and- gold.
Black cohosh is easily started from seed collected in the fall and planted immediately. Black cohosh may take a few years to establish and flower. The plants can also be divided in the early spring or late fall.
Actaea (Cimicifuga) racemosa - Black cohosh
-Pure white candle-like flower illuminate the garden
-Black Cohosh attracts beneficial insects
-Easy to grow in shade or partial sun
-Height: 3 to 6 feet
-Zone: 3 to 9