Wildflowers of NC
Blooms June - July
Black Cohosh is a summer plant of the deep woods and forest margins, reaching up to 6 or even 8 feet tall. From late June through July, the white flower spikes of Black Cohosh reach above the ground cover making this an easy plant to spot in the summer forest. It's appearance is easily distinguished from the similarly named Blue Cohosh, which is a much smaller plant, blooming earlier in the season, with small brown flowers.
Black Cohosh is an important medicinal plant but should only be used by those experienced in herbal medicine. Overdoses can result in symptoms of poisoning such as intense headaches, dizziness, visual disturbances, slow pulse rate, nausea and vomiting. Avoid during pregnancy.
The useful parts of the plant are the roots and rhizomes which are collected in the fall. Many health stores carry remedies derived from Black Cohosh and, as always in plant medicine, it is better to look for a commercial source rather than gathering wild plants. It is often regarded as a "women's plant" because of its usefulness in treating menstrual cramps. It is useful for nerve and muscle pain because it lowers blood pressure and dilates blood vessels. It also has a sedative effect.
Plant nurseries sometimes stock Black Cohosh. It is a striking plant for deep shade landscapes.
NC range of Cimicifuga racemosa