Actaea simplex


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Actaea simplex

Actaea simplex bears fragrant white flowers, in striking long heads, like soft fluffy bottlebrushes.
These fuzzy flower heads contrast superbly with dark purple-black foliage and stems.

Purple Snakeroot catches both the eye and the nose in summer and autumn, when the flower spires tower up on 120-180cm. elegant stems of fragrance.
These make excellent cut flowers with an entrancing scent indoors.

Beautiful burgundy-purple foliage

But it is the beautiful deep-purple-black foliage and stems that really captures your attention throughout the growing season, even when the plant is not in flower.
The foliage colour will ever-deepen as the warm seasons progress.
Then end in a crescendo of vivid orange-yellow autumn foliage colour.

The common name of Purple Snakeroot comes from both the appearance and the traditional use of the roots of Actaea simplex.
Dark roots of the underground rhizomes do indeed look a little like small 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.

Purple Snakeroot has the most handsome dark foliage, which gives all the other green plants a real lift.
So it makes a very appealing perennial clump for a shaded garden.
Valued for beautiful flower and foliage displays in both garden and vase, as well as lovely scent.

Stunner for the Shade

Plant Actaea simplex in Shade to ½ Shade.
Purple Snakeroot really enjoys life under trees and shrubs, as this mimics native habitat in the deciduous woodlands of North America.

Happily Purple Snakeroot can also tolerate clay soils, and makes an excellent choice for gardeners with heavy soil which may become waterlogged at times. But Snakeroots do not require heavy soil to thrive.
They delight in any well composted garden soil, and relish summer mulch.
Purple Snakeroot is well served by its tough, robust rhizome, which can forage well for water and nutrients, and survive the tough times.

Actaea simplex is a frost hardy, perennial clump. It is sometimes also known as Cimicifuga ramosa ‘Atropurpurea’, in honour of it’s glorious purple-burgundy foliage.
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 and foliage all through spring, summer and autumn.


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, a warm spot will do).

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.

SEED COUNT: Minimum 75 seeds per packet approximately.
(We aim to make our seed counts on the generous side – so you receive at least 75 seeds)

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