Cimicifuga racemosa [sim-iss-SIFF-yew-ga, ray-see-MO-suh] is the former name of Actaea racemosa.
It’s one of the 2,252 known flowering species of the family Ranunculaceae, commonly known as the buttercup family.
Cimicifuga Racemosa is a perennial plant native to North America.
Like most other members of its family, the plant is herbaceous and produces small white flowers and large compound leaves from an underground network of rootstalks, called rhizomes.
From creek and forest margins to wooded slopes, ravines, moist meadowlands, and mountainous terrain, Cimicifuga can grow in a range of habitats.
Some other common names you may hear include:
- Black Cohosh
- Black Bugbane
- Black Snakeroot
- Fairy Candle
Cimicifuga Racemosa Care
Size & Growth
Black Cohosh is a little tricky to grow from seeds and slow to establish.
Exposing the seed to a cycle of warm-cold-warm climate for germination is essential.
The plant requires patience to grow.
Seeds bought from the market can take up to 2 years to germinate after being sowed.
Personally collected seeds and planted immediately can germinate a bit earlier.
Late summer and early fall is the best time to sow the seeds.
This plant grows in an upright position and grows to an average height of 4’ – 6’ feet.
However, if provided the optimum conditions, Cimicifuga black cohosh can grow up to 8’ feet tall and 2’ – 4’ feet wide.
Flowering and Fragrance
The Black Snakeroot blooms in late summer to early fall.
The small, creamy white colored fragrant flowers grow on thin stems in the form of terminal racemes that look like fluffy spires 1’ – 2’ feet long.
Light & Temperature
While snakeroot grows in full sun, its natural habitat is shaded or partially shaded areas.
It needs protection from strong winds.
Cimicifuga Racemosa is a tough plant and can survive temperatures up to -40° degrees Fahrenheit (-40° C).
Watering and Feeding
On average, the Black Bugbane requires regular watering.
It needs watering frequently in times of drought.
The plant cannot grow in dry, waterlogged, or poorly draining soil.
Soil & Transplanting
While Racemosa grows in average, moderately moist soil, it prefers organically rich and moisture retentive soil.
As long as the plant has adequate moisture, it can tolerate variations in soil quality and light.
But, if left in the dry soil, the foliage tends to burn and decrease.
The ideal pH of the soil for planting Cimicifuga is 5 – 6.
Grooming and Maintenance
Cimicifuga is one of those plants requiring almost no maintenance once established.
The only factor you need to be highly careful about is that its soil doesn’t dry out and the plant is protected from strong winds.
How to Propagate Black Cohosh
The best way to propagate Black Cohosh is by a division of rhizomes.
To do this:
- Cut the rhizomes into 2” – 3” inches long pieces.
- Make sure the fibrous roots remain attached and each section has at least one bud.
- Plant these pieces of rhizomes in a 3’ – 5’ feet wide prepared bed.
- Stagger the rhizome pieces 18” – 24” inches apart.
- Ensure the buds point upright and the portions are deep enough that they can be covered with 2” inches of soil on top.
- After the plantation, cover the site with 3” inches to leaf mulch or shredded hardwood bark.
Continue adding mulch throughout the planting period to prevent weed growth and promote moisture retention in the soil.
Propagation by rhizome division not only reduces the time it takes the plant to grow to the root harvest stage but also ensures a more consistent plant stand.
Black Bugbane Pest or Diseases
The Fairy Candle plant is not affected by any severe disease.
Occasionally, the plant can get affected by diseases causing root rot and leaf spots.
One of the common conditions that cause the damping off (or death) of young emerging seedlings of black cohosh is the fungus Rhizoctonia Solani.
Planting in well-drained soils can help in disease prevention.
Control it by changing the site of the plantation.
Leaf spots can reduce the growth of roots, which then will cause premature defoliation of Cimicifuga.
Leaf spots are prevented by planting in non-crowded areas with proper air circulation.
While destroying all the affected foliage is the best way to stop the diseases from spreading.
If the disease spreads to a large area, consider applying certain organic fungicides such as neem oil or a spray with baking soda.
Uses for Black Snakeroot
Due to its bright green foliage and white flowers, this plant’s grown to add color and texture to gardens and backyards.
Traditionally, Cimicifuga Racemosa is used as a bug and flea repellent.
Cimicifuga plants have a long history of use for several medicinal purposes.
Native Americans used it for treatment of fever, pneumonia, cough, musculoskeletal pain, and menstrual irregularities.
The safety of using the plant or products made from it for the long-term hasn’t been evaluated.