One of the latest bloomers is White Snakeroot, filling the forest edges and understory with its bright white glow.
Its soil preferences range from moist to dry, with a particular affinity for loam and loamy clay substrates.
The thin, usually hairless leaves are oppositely arranged, and can be ovate or heart-shaped, with palmate leaf venation with sharply serrated edges.
While it mostly colonizes by spreading rhizomes, its fluffy seeds are wind-dispersed, whisking them away to new destinations.
Snakeroot's Latin name is Ageratina altissima.
Ageratina stems from the Greek word ageratos, a botanical word describing flowers that kept their color for a prolonged period of time, with the ina suffix meaning "small."
Altissima means "very tall."
Other common names include Deerweed, Deerwort, Hemp-Agrimony, Fall Poison, Indian Sanicle and White Top.
White Snakeroot has a handful of look-alikes that can sometimes cause confusion, especially since they are all late-season bloomers.
One of them is Common Boneset, or Eupatorium perfoliatum.
The stem is covered in long, white hairs, and the opposite, lance-shaped leaves have clasping bases with a network of conspicuous veins.
White Snakeroot gets its name from the mistaken belief that the roots could be used to treat snakebites.
It is toxic not only to humans, but also to livestock, creating a fatal condition in cattle known as "staggers."
These toxins can even be passed to humans via cow's milk, which was historically known as "milk sickness," - a condition common from the Colonial period to the early 19th Century. Milk Sickness was the cause of death for Abraham Lincoln's mother.
The root acts as a stimulant, diaphoretic, diuretic and tonic. It was used in the treatment of diarrhea and urinary tract disease.
It was also used in an herbal bath to induce sweating, and an infusion or decoction was used to treat an inflamed uterus.
The root was even chewed and held in the mouth to treat a toothache.
Bees, both native and honeybees, rely on Snakeroot for nectar and pollen.
Snakeroot can also make a deer-proof addition to your landscaping, lighting up shady areas in the fall and providing a life line for pollinators before the winter chill.
Be sure to join us for next Wednesday's wildflower!
Click here to read about last week's wildflower, Field Thistle.
Medicinal information herein is shared strictly for anecdotal purposes. Do not attempt to self-medicate with wild herbs. Please consult a doctor first.
The Friends of the Wildflower Garden Inc.
Plants for a Future
Ohio Perennial and Biennial Guide
Wildflowers of Tennessee, the Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians - Dennis Horn & Tavia Cathcart
All About Tennessee Wildflowers - Jan W. Midgley
Shared on: Wake Up Wednesday, Green Thumb Thursday, Weekend Blog Hop, Simply Natural Saturdays, Clever Chicks Blog Hop, Thank Goodness It's Monday, Wordless Wednesday