white snakeroot

Ageratina altissima has a small fluffy bright white flower arranged in loose, flattened clusters atop smooth stems.

It is native to woodland areas in the eastern United States and blooms from late summer to frost. Native Americans reportedly used a decoction of the roots as a remedy for snakebite, hence the common name. In addition to being used medicinally, this beautiful airy plant also has a dark history. Settlers who drank from cows that fed on snakeroot (which contains the poison tremetol) often developed the disease called milk sickness. “Milk Sickness” was most common in dry years when cattle wandered from poor pastureland to wooded areas in search of food. Legend has it that this is how Abraham Lincoln’s mother Nancy Hanks Lincoln died in 1818.

Botanical Name Ageratina altissima
Common Name white snakeroot
Family Asteraceae
USDA Zone 3 thru 8
Light Requirement Full sun to Part Shade
Season(s) of interest summer, fall
Height and Spread 3-5ft x 2-4ft (90-150cm x 60-120cm)
Flower Color White
Attracts Wildlife Attracts Pollinators, Rarely Browsed by Mammalian Herbivores
Additional Information Native to Chicago Region. Synonym Eupatorium rugosum
Location in Lurie Garden North Dark Plate, Southwest Dark Plate, Southeast Dark Plate

Average Flowering Time