Actaea racemosa bears fragrant white flowers, in striking long heads, like soft fluffy bottlebrushes.
It catches both the eye and the nose in summer and autumn, when the flower spires tower up on 120-180cm. elegant stems.
These make excellent cut flowers with an entrancing scent.
The common name of Black Snakeroot comes from both the appearance and the traditional use of the roots.
The dark roots of the underground rhizomes do look a little like mini snakes.
The First Nations native American peoples, as well as the early European settlers who learnt from them, harvested, dried and treasured rhizomes for use in herbal medicine.
Black Snakeroot had a fine reputation in the treatment of “ladies problems” and gut disorders, amongst other things.
Black Snakeroot also has pretty, finely divided foliage.
So it makes a very appealing perennial clump for a shaded garden, giving beautiful flower displays for both garden and vase, as well as lovely scent, and attractive foliage.
And then in autumn the handsome leaves give a vivid butter yellow autumn display.
Plant Actaea racemosa in Shade to ½ Shade.
Black Snakeroot really enjoys a position under trees and shrubs, as this mimics their native habitat in the deciduous woodlands of North America.
Happily they can also tolerate clay soils, and are an excellent choice for gardeners with heavy soil which may become waterlogged at times. But they do not require heavy soil to thrive.
They delight in any well composted garden soil, and enjoy summer mulch.
Black Snakeroot is well served by its tough, robust rhizome, which can forage well for water and nutrients, and survive the tough times.
Actaea racemosa is a frost hardy, perennial clump.
It is also a low maintenance plant, with the only work being to cut the whole plant back to the socks after autumn, mulch for summer, and enjoy the lovely flowers.
SEED SOWING ADVICE:
Scatter seeds directly in the garden in autumn or winter / or sow at any time indoors in punnets.
INDOORS FOR EARLY PLANTS: Sow seed in punnets on surface of good quality seed raising mix.
Cover to 6mm depth with seed mix or vermiculite.
Moisten the mix by placing the punnet in a water bath, with the water level below the surface of the punnet, and allow the water to percolate up from the bottom. This will ensure the mix is thoroughly moist but not drenched.
Label the punnet with the name and date sown.
For best germination place in a well lit position and keep moist in approx. 25C for 14 days. (An electronic heat bed is ideal but not essential)
Then wrap punnet in cling-wrap and place in fridge (not freezer) for 3 months.
This breaks the seeds natural winter dormancy.
Remove from fridge, unwrap punnet, and keep in a well lit position at approx. 25C. for seeds to sprout.
Seeds need light to germinate.
Or sow seeds directly in garden in autumn/winter and leave to get the required winter chilling from nature, before germinating in spring.
Minimum 40 seeds per packet approximately.
(We aim to make our seed counts on the generous side – so you receive at least 40 seeds)