Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: White Snakeroot
Ageratina altissima

Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ageratina (ad-jur-uh-TY-nuh) (Info)
Species: altissima (al-TISS-ih-muh) (Info)

Synonym:Eupatorium rugosum
Synonym:Ageratum altissimum
Synonym:Eupatorium ageratoides

4 vendors have this plant for sale.

12 members have or want this plant for trade.


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From herbaceous stem cuttings
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors
From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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7 positives
3 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative coriaceous On Feb 25, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

In my part of the country, this plant becomes an aggressive weed through self-sowing. Seedlings don't pull up easily. Seeds travel on the wind and start colonies on neighboring properties, which will seed onto your property long after you've decided to eradicate it.

Positive Rickwebb On Dec 4, 2013, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

A very common meadow and woodland edge wild plant that blooms in late August into October in se PA. Wonderful plant for pollinators, as butterflies. Strong, powerful, hardy plant that does self sow a lot.

Positive plant_it On Jul 7, 2013, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

Native to North America (S. Ontario to New Brunswick; south through New England to Virginia and upland Georgia; west to Louisiana and ne. Texas; north to Wisconsin).

Gets fragrant white flowers from late summer to fall and is one of the last wildflowers to bloom in the fall.

"The nectar of the flowers attracts a variety of insects, including large Leaf-Cutting bees, Halictid bees, wasps, various flies (Syrphid, Tachinid, Bee flies, & others), butterflies, and moths. The bees also collect pollen. The caterpillars of some moths are known to feed on Eupatorium spp. (Bonesets), including White Snakeroot (probably). These species include Carmenta bassiformis (Eupatorium Borer Moth), Papaipema cataphracta (Burdock Borer Moth), Phragmatobia fuliginosa (Ruby Tiger Moth), and Phragmatobia lineata (Lined Ruby Tiger Moth). Because the foliage is bitter and toxic, mammalian herbivores avoid this plant as a food source."

The name "White Snakeroot" derives from the erroneous belief among early settlers that the bitter rhizomes were beneficial in the treatment of snakebites. In fact, the foliage and rhizomes are highly toxic to deer, cattle and humans, causing fatalities from 'Milk Sickness' because the toxins can pass through the milk of dairy cattle to humans.

Positive GardenQuilts On Sep 17, 2011, GardenQuilts from Pocono Mountains, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

This wildflower has been especially beautiful this fall. It is thriving in filtered sunlight under trees on a southwestern facing slope. It must have liked the cold wet spring, hot humid summer, late summer rains and floods this year.

I wouldn't trust it in my cottage garden, but it is beautiful in a natural or naturalized setting.

Neutral creekwalker On Sep 3, 2008, creekwalker from Benton County, MO (Zone 5a) wrote:

Called Tall Boneset by the field guide Ozark Wildflowers.

Positive wetdogfarm On Sep 8, 2005, wetdogfarm from Eveleth, MN (Zone 3a) wrote:

I think you can safely say that this plant is hardy to zone even made it through a -60F winter. I started it from seed collected in Michigan and it has survived in my N MN garden (in beds and in wild areas) for 11 years. The only trouble is that it self seeds enthusiastically so to keep the population down I have to deadhead before seed sets. Nice tall plant for full shade, September, tolerates damp.

Neutral JodyC On Jan 17, 2005, JodyC from Palmyra, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

Tall Boneset often competes directly with Solidago canadensis (Canada Goldenrod) in disturbed areas, although it prefers slightly drier areas. The two plants appear similar to each other prior to bloom, although the former has darker leaves. This plant provides some white color to a fall landscape that is often dominated by forbs with yellow flowers and the brown color of dried-out grasses. This is the easiest boneset to grow in dry sunny areas. Some people may mistake this plant for a weed, which it is to some extent.

Positive nicklebag On Sep 17, 2004, nicklebag from Hammond, IN wrote:

This plant is a wildflower that lives in the woods by our house. It blooms in September and is very hardy here. Looks great with the goldenrods and rudebeckias that are blooming now. Great butterfly plant!

Positive growinroots On Sep 3, 2004, growinroots from Morrisville, PA wrote:

I have this growing in both my full sun and my semi-shade garden beds here in Zone 6, PA. It does well in both and I haven't had any scorching of leaves at all. Seems to like both areas equally well. A very easy plant to care for, seems to grow in any conditions and deals well with drought. The butterflies love it and it blooms beautifully into October when everything else is dying out.

Positive gonedutch On Oct 5, 2003, gonedutch from Fairport, NY wrote:

This is a favorite plant in my fall garden when little else of color is going on. It blooms well into October and produces a mass of flowers reminiscent of cumulus clouds. The flowers make a good complement to a fall bouquet of asters and goldenrod. It is a generous self-seeder in the shade of our tree canopy.

Neutral Baa On Oct 3, 2001, Baa wrote:

Clump forming perennial from Eastern North America.

Has lance shaped to ovate, toothed, mid green to greyish leaves. Stems are erect dark purple or brown in colour. Bears pure white, fluffy looking flowers.

Flowers August - October

Likes an alkaline, moist, well drained soil in partial shade, hot sun will scorch the leaves quite badly and frosts may kill off young shoots and leaves so a sheltered position is wise.

Has been used in the past for treating fever, liver problems and as a cure for the common cold.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Union Grove, Alabama
Marion, Arkansas
Anna, Illinois
Danvers, Illinois
Hinsdale, Illinois
La Grange Park, Illinois
Murphysboro, Illinois
Coatesville, Indiana
Macy, Indiana
Valparaiso, Indiana
Iowa City, Iowa
Barbourville, Kentucky
Benton, Kentucky
Melbourne, Kentucky
Brookeville, Maryland
Amesbury, Massachusetts
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Charlevoix, Michigan
Eveleth, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Frenchtown, New Jersey
Whitehouse Station, New Jersey
Croton On Hudson, New York
Fairport, New York
West Jefferson, North Carolina
Corning, Ohio
Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania
Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Millersburg, Pennsylvania
Morrisville, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Columbia, Tennessee
Mont Belvieu, Texas
Leesburg, Virginia
Madison, Wisconsin

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