Content Detail

Bugbane is a low maintenance, shade-tolerant perennial with late season spikes of white flowers on tall, wiry stems. It creates a great vertical accent for a shade garden, perennial border, or along a pond edge.

  • Family (English) Buttercup
  • Family (botanic) Ranunculaceae
  • Tree or plant type Perennial
  • Native locale North America
  • Size range Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily), Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Alkaline soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Occasional flooding
  • Season of interest late summer, early fall
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Mounded, Upright
  • Growth rate Slow


Dense fibrous roots mound into large shiny leaves. Plants reach 4 to 6 feet high when in flower.

Native geographic location and habitat:

Bugbane is native to the eastern United States,  from Ontario to Maine and south to Arkansas, Mississippi, and Georgia.

Leaf description:

Deeply cut leaves are 1 to 4 inches long and ternately-compound (divided into 3 segments, 3 times). They are ovate and irregularly toothed.

Flower description:

Long racemes of creamy white flowers are often branched at the base of terminal flower heads on long wiry stems. Flowers open in late summer and persist for three to four weeks. Excellent for woodland settings. May require three to four years to flower.

Fruit description:

A dehiscent fruit (follicle) can add winter interest

Plant care:

Best in part shade to dense shade in organic rich, slightly acidic soil. Avoid wet sites. If grown in full sun, provide adequate soil moisture and avoid hot, afternoon sun. Division is difficult, so it is best to let plants remain undisturbed fi possible. Wiry flower stalks may need staking. Seed heads can remain for  fall for winter interest and be cut back in spring. If  there is a lack of snow cover in northern climates, add winter mulch to protect plant crowns. 


List of pests and diseases:

Leaf spots and rust can be a problem on this plant.


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