Also known as tall boneset and richweed, white snake root is an herbaceous perennial native to central and eastern North America where they grow in woods and thickets. It is a member of the aster family (Asteraceae) and related to Joe Pye weed. Slender branchng stems carry the dark green nettle-like leaves that are five to seven inches long, sharply toothed and with slightly hairy veins on the underside. The fluffy bright white flower heads appear from late summer to frost in loose flat corymbs three to four inches wide and are especially valued because white flowers are rare in the garden at that time. The cutivar ‘Chocolate’ has dark purple stems and leaves that fade slowly over the course of the summer and are green by the time the flowers appear. Plants spread by seed and rhizomes and are good for the garden as well as cutting but do not do well where nights are warm. In addition, they are poisonous to cows and make their milk toxic to humans.
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Bloom: Fluffy bright white flowerheads in loose flat clusters three to four inches wide from late summer to frost
Size: 3-5’ H x 4’ W
Light: Sun, part shade
Soil: Average, moist, well-drained
Hardiness: Zones 3-7
Care: Deadhead, cut down after flowering.
Pests and Diseases: Leaf minors, flea beetles
Propagation: Seed (but ‘Chocolate’ will not come true); division in early spring
Companion plants: Cone flower, Russian sage, Japanese anemone, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’