rattlesnake master

Eryngium yuccifolium (rattlesnake master) is a member of the Apiaceae and is native to the tallgrass prairie areas of central and eastern North America. At their peak in late summer, flowers appear greenish-white; while the winter dormant remnants of E. yuccifolium bring dark straw and tan colors to the garden.

Plants possess a deep taproot and, as such, are difficult to transplant and often intolerant of disturbance. However, if unchecked rattlesnake master will readily self-seed and colonize landscape areas to the point of establishing a near monoculture. The species is often used as a principle component in prairie restoration seed mixes.

Flowers of E. yuccifolium are presented as globular, spherical heads of up to 1-1.5 inches diameter and, to the casual observer, bear a superficial resemblance to thistles. Plants of rattlesnake master remain as strong vertical elements in the garden, summer or winter.

The vertical effect can be enhanced by interplanting E. yuccifolium among other strongly vertical, but shorter, plants such as Echinacea ‘Virgin’.

Botanical Name Eryngium yuccifolium
Common Name rattlesnake master
Family Apiaceae
USDA Zone 3 to 8
Light Requirement Full Sun
Season(s) of interest Summer, Fall, Winter
Height and Spread
4-5ft x 2-3ft (120-150cm x 60-90cm)
Flower Color Greenish White
Attracts Wildlife
Hosts Butterflies/Moths, Attracts Pollinators
Additional Information
Native to Chicago Region. Native range: Central and Eastern United States
Location in Lurie Garden
Southwest Light Plate, Northwest Light Plate, Northeast Light Plate, East Meadow, West Meadow