Mariton: Black Cohosh

July 7, 2020

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Photo by Tim Burris

Black Cohosh blossoms

During the dog days of summer a walk in a deep shaded forest is a nice break.  Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa) is one of the bright rays that get me through these hot days.  When it is blooming, I prefer the common name fairy candles.  The flowers light up a shaded forest with a magical feel that is captured by that name.  At Mariton, there are a couple trails lined with fairy candles, and they are a real joy to walk at this time of year.

Photo by Tim Burris

A trail lined with fairy candles.

Black Cohosh  (also called Black Snakeroot) loves the deep woods.  Plants grow several feet tall.  Grouped in the bugbanes, the beautiful blossoms don’t smell great and supposedly keep away bugs, though I haven’t found that to be the case on my walks where it is abundant.  Summer is the time of meadow flowers – flowers that love the sun.  Black Coshosh breaks that rule and brightens up the forest for a few weeks when we really need the shade.