Common name: Bugbane
Family: Ranunculaceae, Buttercup
Height x width: 2-8' x 3-4', shorter in sun
Growth rate, habit: moderate to slow (3-4 years before flowering); upright clump
Foliage: divided into 3 segments 3 times (ternately compound), dark green to blackish
Flowers: long racemes of white, distinct number of pistils for each species
(photo courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden Plantfinder)
Hardiness: zones 3-7
Soil:moist, acidic prefered (as in woodlands)
Light: shade to part shade (especially zone 6 and warmer)
Pests and problems: few
Landscape habit, uses: woodland, back of border, native planting
Other interest: when named by Linnaeus in 1750 the species foetidus was ground into powder and stuffed into mattresses and pillows to drive away (Latin fugo) bugs (Latin cimex); taxonomic changes from botanists now include the more horticulturally popular Cimicifuga genus, with changes noted below; still often seen as the latter in the trade.
Other culture: perform best in cooler zones
Propagation: stratified seed germinate erratically, hard to divide mature (at least 3 years old) plants
Species: (those marked * are often more common)
cimicifuga (formerly C.foetida) (si-mi-si-few'-gah)--
dahurica (da-hur' eh-ca)--Dahurian Bugbane, zones 5-7, 5-6' x 3', slightly fragrant creamy white flowers in late summer, native to Japan
japonica (formerly C. acerina) (ja-pon' eh-ca)--Japanese Bugbane, zones 3-7, 3-6' x 3', branched racemes of white flowers, all basal foliage, late summer to early fall flowers, native to Japan
cordifolia (formerly C.racemosa and C. rubifolia)(cor-deh-fol'ee-ah)--Cohosh, Black Snakeroot, zones 3-7, 6-8' x 4', white flowers on 3-4' inflorescence in late summer, flowers with 1-2 pistils, fewer flower stalks than other species, native to eastern U.S.
*pachypoda (pack-ee-poh' dah)--White Baneberry, doll's eye; 2-4' x 3'; zones 3-7, white flowers late spring; native in eastern U.S.
podocarpa syn. A. alba (formerly C. cordifolia and C. americana)(poh-doh-car' pah)-- American Bugbane, zones 3-7, 2-6' x 3', white flowers on 2-3' inflorescence, 3-8 pistils per flower, flowers in early fall, some foliage on flower stems, native in eastern U.S.
*racemosa (raa-cee-moh' sah)-- Snakeroot, Cohosh; zones 3-7, 6-8' x 4'; white flowers in late summer; native in eastern U.S.; one of more commonly seen selections of the genus
*rubra (ru' brah)-- Red Baneberry; zones 3-7; 2-4' x 3'; white flowers in spring; native in eastern N. America; similar to pachypoda except for fruit color which is red, and more hairy leaves; berries are poisonous, roots eaten cause violent discomfort
ramosa: simplex 'Pritchard's Giant'
*simplex--(sim' plex)--Kamchatka Bugbane, zones 3-7, 3-4' x 3', white flowers in 2-3' inflorescence in fall, 2-3 pistils per flower, arching flower stalks, native to Russia; Atropurpurea group of dark foliage cultivars very similar to each other;
spicata (spii-kay' tah)--
matsumurae (formerly C. simplex
)(mat-suum' ur-ii)-- Bugbane, zones 4-9; 3-4' x 2-3'; white
in late summer to early fall; species name in honor of J. Matsumura
|Cultivars, other taxa||species||other|
|*'Brunnette'||Atropurpurea group||purple foliage, perhaps most popular|
|'Hillside Black Beauty'||Atropurpurea group||dark purple foliage, from Conn.|
|*'James Compton'||Atropurpurea group||dark foliage, popular|
|'Pritchard's Giant'||simplex||4-5' tall|
|'Elstead variety'||matsumurae||finely-cut dark green foliage|
|'White Pearl'||matsumurae||dense flower spikes|
©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.
Return to Perry's
Perennial Pages | HGPO
course | PSS123