Content Detail

White snakeroot is an open, smooth-stemmed perennial wildflower reaching 2 to 4 feet high. It has slightly branched clusters of bright white flowers in late summer and fall. It is commonly found in shaded woodlands and naturalized landscapes.

  • Family (English) Aster
  • Family (botanic) Asteraceae
  • Tree or plant type Perennial
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure 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 Alkaline soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, clay soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest midsummer, late summer, early fall
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Mounded, Multi-stemmed, Thicket-forming
  • Growth rate Fast


White snakeroot is a clump-forming plant reaching 2 to 4 feet high and 2 to 4 feet wide. It spreads by shallow-rooted rhizomes or by seed.

Native geographic location and habitat: 

This perennial is native to dry deciduous woods, borders, open woodland meadows, and roadsides from South Dakota to Oklahoma and the eastern United States. C-Value: 4

Attracts birds or pollinators: 

White snakeroot attracts bees, wasps, butterflies and moths.

Leaf description: 

The leaves are opposite, 2 to 5 inches long and 1 to 3 inches wide. It is lanceolate shaped, with coarse toothed (serrated) margins and pointed tips. The leaves become smaller as they near the top of the stem. They are medium green with pale undersides, each with three prominent veins on the upper surface.

Flower description: 

Compound (corymbs) or flat-headed clusters of panicles are on terminal, slightly branched stems. Individual flowers are bright white, fluffy and slightly fragrant. Flowers are disk flowers with no petals, and bloom in late summer into fall.

Fruit description: 

The flower heads develop into black seeds, each with silky hairs to help distribute them in the wind.

Plant care:

White snakeroot is best grown in part shade to full shade. If it is grown in the sun, it requires adequate moisture. It is tolerant of dry shady conditions. Cut back plants if they become too leggy, and again in late fall to prevent seeds from disbursing.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

This perennial has no serious problems. It was once thought to cure snake bites, but in fact, the foliage and roots are toxic, especially to cattle and humans.


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