National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Black Snakeroot

Black Snakeroot

Cimicifuga racemosa, family Ranunculaceae
June to July

A native of North America the plant was once sent to Britain annually as seed to be grown for the roots which contained a substance known as cimicifugin. Here in Britain it was used to make medicines for diarrhoea and whooping cough, especially in children.

Native Americans used it to treat rattle snake bites, gynaecological disorders, pain in childbirth, rheumatism and to aid the development of milk in nursing mothers.

Other common names for Black Snakeroot are: fairy candle, black bugbane or black cohosh.

Black Snakeroot. Image credit: Shotaku, Flickr. CC license
Black Snakeroot. Image credit: milesizz, Flickr. CC license