Maryland Native Plants for Summer Shade: Actaea racemosa – Black Cohosh

May 23, 2024 | Blog, Native Plant Spotlight

Shady Show Stoppers

Actaea racemosa – Black Cohosh

Black Cohosh info card

Actaea racemosa, also known as Black Cohosh, Easily grown in average, medium moisture soils in part shade to full shade. Prefers humusy, organically rich, moisture-retentive soils. Foliage tends to scorch and otherwise depreciate if soils are allowed to dry out. Best sited in locations sheltered from strong winds.  Astilbe-like foliage is deep green. Adds architectural height and late summer bloom to the shade garden.

Plant in front of a darker background to highlight the white blooms. Has a tall white, slightly fragrant, spike flower in the late summer and when mature will reach about 4-6 feet tall with the foliage about 3-4 feet tall. Black cohosh prefers to grow in full shade to dappled shade. Black Cohosh is larval host for the Appalachian Azure butterfly and attracts pollinators like beetles and bumblebees.

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Latin Name: Actaea racemosa
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Ranunculaceae
Height: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Tolerate: Rabbit
(Information from Missouri Botanical Garden)

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