Growing Guide
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Black Cohosh

Herbaceous Perennial Flower, Wildflower

Also known as Black Snakeroot, Bugbane
Cimicifuga racemosa
Ranunculaceae Family

Wispy plumes of tiny, star-like white flowers tower up to 8 feet tall over fern-like, dark-green foliage. This native to the eastern U.S. brings height to moist, partly shady sites.

Site Characteristics
  • part shade

Soil conditions:

  • requires acid soil
  • requires damp soil
  • requires high fertility
  • Tolerates poor drainage
Prefers moist, acidic, rich soil. Without proper soil and light, plants remain stunted and may not flower.

Hardiness zones:

  • 3 to 8
Plant Traits

Lifecycle: perennial

Ease-of-care: easy

Height: 5 to 8 feet

Spread: 2 to 4 feet

Bloom time:

  • mid-summer
  • late summer

Flower color: white

Foliage color: dark green

Foliage texture: medium


  • cushion, mound or clump
  • upright

Forms clumps of fern-like foliage followed by upright flower spikes.

Shape in flower: flower stalks with upright spikes

Very tiny blooms create a big effect clustered along stems which may be either erect or arching.

Special Considerations
Special characteristics:
  • deer resistant
  • non-aggressive
  • non-invasive
  • native to North America - Native to eastern North America
  • fragrant - Blooms have an unpleasant odor.
  • bears ornamental fruit - The seedpods are attractive in arrangments or as winter interest in the garden.
Special uses:
  • wildflowers
  • bog garden - Suitable for margins
  • naturalistic garden
Growing Information
How to plant:

Propagate by seed, division or separation - Divide carefully in spring or fall, but no sooner than 3 years after planting. Division is difficult due to tough, snake-like, roots. Division is rarely needed, as clumps can remain undisturbed indefinitely.

Sow seeds in containers in fall in cold frame for germination the following spring.

Maintenance and care:
Protect from direct sun and keep soil moist to prevent foliage from burning.

Flower stalks may require staking.

Leave seedheads on plants for fall and winter interest. Cut back in spring.

Plants are slow-growing and seldom require division. Divide carefully in spring or fall.

More growing information: How to Grow Perennials

Tarnished plant bugs
Leaf spots
var. cordifolia (C. cordifolia, C. rubifolia) grows just 5 feet tall and has heart-shaped leaflets.

A related species, C. ramosa ‘Atropurpurea’ grows 6 to 7 feet tall with many flower stalks and dark purple foliage.