For the past several years, whenever I walked down my driveway, I noticed and admired this plant. I have wondered just what it was. This summer it bloomed and I decided to identify it properly. Turns out to be black cohosh (Actaea racemosa). How wonderful! This is one of those herbs that is so helpful to women in particular. Here’s a picture of the raceme as it began blooming . . .
One of the black cohosh identifying features is the smell associated with the flowers — not so nice! Another feature are the flowers which seem to be totally lacking in petals and sepals (which drop off as the flower opens). Instead the flower is a mass of stamens with a single fat pistil.
A third identifying characteristic is the leaf pattern — three stalks of three leaves which branch into threes. And the third center leaf has two indentations.
Once I figured out this is a black cohosh plant, then I started investigating what part of it is useful medicinally. It’s the root. Well I certainly do not plan to dig up the only black cohosh plant I found to get its root. I began looking for more black cohosh. After lots of exploring I found another plant which turns out to be a clump of plants. Good! Now I have a choice of roots.
Meanwhile I found another plant with a raceme filled with buds. I wondered if this could be black cohosh although the leaves were a much lighter shade of green – almost a lime green color. After waiting a week or so, this is what I saw:
Another gorgeous, smelly set of flowers! This, too, is a black cohosh plant.
There is a nearby slope which I have visited on occasion — most often during the spring season when the ephemerals are blooming. This past spring I took photos of some plants there which intrigued me. Plants which I hoped to identify some day. I’ve been checking out the slope lately just to see if I can find anything new or interesting to identify. Here are those same plants:
Yes — you guessed it! More black cohosh! Obviously younger, as these plants have never bloomed. So now I have a great supply of the plant and will be able to choose which one(s) to harvest and which to save for the future.