Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: White Snakeroot
Ageratina altissima 'Chocolate'

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

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

8 vendors have this plant for sale.

20 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden


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:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From herbaceous stem cuttings

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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There are a total of 26 photos.
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14 positives
7 neutrals
6 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral pjdetroit On Sep 12, 2014, pjdetroit from Toledo, OH wrote:

I'm neutral to negative on this plant. On the plus side, it's one of the last to flower in the fall, has beautiful chocolate coloration on parent plants, stands up in strong rainfall, seems to grow well in sun or shade, is deer resistant, and is attractive to several species of bees.

The downside of this plant is that it spreads freely via bird droppings and will soon become an unwelcome weed in every corner of your property. If you have this plant, your neighbors will soon have some too. It is best to control this plant by pulling volunteer seedlings. As this plant is related to "White Snakeroot", it should not be planted in areas where livestock browse due to toxicity. Poison Ivy or mint might be more welcome in your garden. I suspect this plant could easily become an invasive species. Proceed with caution. There have to be better alternatives to this plant.

Positive D3J3 On Aug 25, 2014, D3J3 from Lansing, MI wrote:

I love this plant. In my Michigan garden, it is the last plant to sprout in the spring, so mark it's location and wait for it. But I love the purple foliage and I love the white flowers when the bees swarm over them. I have had it in my garden several years. It has not spread. I do get seedlings, some chocolate, and some greener varieties. The small plants pull easily, but I usually cut off the seed heads, to prevent lots of seeds.

It grows fine in my shady yard.

I was not aware until today that it is poisonous if ingested. But then, so are apple seeds, monkshood, daffodils, yew and Angel's Trumpets.

Positive lfunnyfarm On Sep 26, 2013, lfunnyfarm from Buford, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

I've had this plant for several years. It is not invasive in my zone 8a shade garden. This year, with our copious amounts of rainfall, it has bloomed the best ever. Lovely white flower clusters! It is snuggled up next to Galium, Tricyrtis and Spigelia.

Negative coriaceous On Jun 2, 2013, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

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.

Seedlings are mostly darker than the species but rarely as dark as the parent. Grows (all too well) from full sun to full shade here in eastern Massachusetts, though the foliage color is greener in shade.

I know many experienced gardeners who have grown this plant in New England, and few who've grown it for longer than five years who don't regret planting it.

Negative SunnyMeadow On Dec 25, 2012, SunnyMeadow from Brevard, NC wrote:

Nancy Hanks Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's mother, died after drinking milk from a cow that had eaten White Snakeroot. All parts of White Snakeroot are highly toxic. White Snakeroot should be grown in an area that is inaccessible to pets and children. Wear gloves when handling White Snakeroot.

Negative Weerobin On May 22, 2012, Weerobin from Saint Louis, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

Mine arrived uninvited and I'm still pulling it.
I have a large yard and I can't pull it as fast as it's spreading. I'll admit it is refreshing to have a plant flowering in september, especially flowering nicely in the shade. But it chokes out everything else in the woodland.
In my yard, it competes with vinca, euonymus vine and honeysuckle as my worst invasives.

Neutral cargarden On Apr 7, 2012, cargarden from Goodview, MN wrote:

I only have had the plant last year & wasn't sure if you cut it down in the winter which I did, did I read right that it takes awhile for them to spring up or did I kill it.
I was supprised though that the flowers weren't larger, I planted mine in the shade.

Neutral Gabrielle On Feb 28, 2012, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

Late to emerge in spring. Blooms September - October in my garden.

Neutral Zy On Sep 22, 2011, Zy from Hamilton, NJ (Zone 6b) wrote:

Have seen it growing well in any type of soil that doesn't completely dry out. On one property I've got it thriving in rich sandy soil and on my other property it's thriving in a clay loam. They can be readily transplanted from mid-spring through late autumn.

They provide good color contrast for most other plants EXCEPT those that are either very dark green (such as yews and 'Dragon Lady' hollies) or anything else with dark foliage (such as ninebark 'Diablo' and any of the maroon colored Japanese barberries). For the most striking effect, plant them adjacent to anything that has golden or chartreuse foliage.

Rather than discard all of the 'Chocolate' seedlings, I tend to save the most attractive ones for creative new uses in the landscape. Because they grow quickly to significant size, and then can be easily re-transplanted out at some later time, they are very useful for temporarily plugging spaces in the garden that are reserved for the long term growth of larger shrubs. And they can also be used en masse too. A dozen of them can quickly cover a significant area, bursting the center of an otherwise monotonous, oversized, open, sunny lawn. I created a nice quick woodland garden using a 10 sq ft patch of them surrounding a wild locust that volunteered itself near the center of my lawn. The locust seedling originated from my neighbor's ancient 90' tall giant. Locusts grow rapidly, and respond well to coppicing. Thus I maintain it as a lush 12' tall shrub by cutting it back to the ground every year. The contrast in both color and texture between the 'Chocolate' and the wild locust is striking.

In full shade its mature height is only about 60% compared to full sun, but it will still flower there just as profusely. White flowers are perfect for brightening up full shade, especially during the early autumn when few other perennials are still blooming elsewhere. It also self-seeds in far less than optimum conditions, including full shade, although not so nearly agressively as in full sun.

If you have a small garden to maintain and wish to keep just a few 'Chocolates' then it's easy to prevent them from reseeding. However, if you're always busy in a large landscape and have at least a dozen of these growing in good conditions, then it can be quite challenging to prevent an invasive spread.

They are certainly NOT a good neighbor plant in my climate zone. If you plant them anywhere within a acre parcel in zone-6, they can spread to an adjacent parcel within a year or two. Neighbors who are already negligent about controlling various other tall weeds may have even less success controlling this invader. So invading back from your neighbors' parcels it could possibly become a persistent weed problem for you, years after you changed you mind and "eradicated" it.

Fortunately though it doesn't have a tap root, lending its shallow clumpy root system easy to hand-pull when the soil is moist.

Nine years ago I purchased (3) 'Chocolates' from a garden center in Vermont. I now have approx 100 growing at my two homes and I'd have many, many thousands if I didn't weed out at least a thousand of them over the years.

I've observed that many of its seedlings are a good likeness of its true cultivar, even a few generations later. However, there will always be a large proportion of the seedlings that revert to its boring albeit native general species, which has plain green stems and lighter green leaves. I've seen large patches of that less interesting "ancestor" growing natively along shaded banks of the Delaware R. at Bordentown, NJ.

Positive AmandaEsq On Jun 14, 2011, AmandaEsq from Greensboro, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

Love it - chocolate eupatorium has shiny, deep purple stems with chocolate leaves and delicate white fuzzy blooms in late summer/fall. It stands 4 tall and 3' wide. Bees and butterflies love it too.

I have read sources which suggest it can take full sun, but I wouldn't recommend it!!! It likes moist, well-drained soil. I recommend morning sun. If you're in a cooler climate, it will probably take more sun than it does here in sunny NC.

I collected the seed in MA and grew it here from seed in 2009. I set 5 plants in a perennial bed then, and all 5 survive here in zone 7b. I planted them under a large pecan tree, but the sun doesn't pass over until after high noon. The plants suffer wilt at high noon but recover well in the afternoon shade. I have mulched them heavily which may have kept them from re-seeding. I have never seen a volunteer. I expect to move these plants to a shadier location this season.

Positive SalviaFanatic5 On May 1, 2010, SalviaFanatic5 from Dover, DE wrote:

I really haven't had any problems with this one. Its a slow perennial to get going. I haven't had any problems with it being invasive. It does tend to fall over once it's in full bloom. I love it, though. It's a bee magnet. If you're a fan of bees, this is the plant for you.

Positive bonehead On Nov 19, 2009, bonehead from Cedarhome, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Gorgeous herb, very nice grouping with tall Joe Pye and mugwort. Blooms July-August. I have not had problems with self-seeding as yet (planted in spring of 07), and in fact divided it last spring.

Positive GardenKrol On Sep 16, 2008, GardenKrol from Clarksburg, MD wrote:

I was thrilled this to find this lovely plant blooming in scattered shady locations around our 15 acres of wooded hill and wetland. I was able to identify it using the CT Botannical Society plant list. It seems to be most robust in the moister areas with good leaf litter, but I have not observed it in the wetland. I'll report back if I do find it there. I have not noticed it on the property in previous years, but I'm just becoming really aware of the wonderful wildflowers in our area. I'd love to have it my shade garden but I'm loathe to disturb any of the native wildflowers; I'll try to collect some seeds. My plant is obviously NOT the cultivar 'Chocolate', but I thought folks would be interested to hear about the wild parent plant.

Positive artemiss On Apr 27, 2008, artemiss from Toledo, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

I planted this plant in a semi-shaded/morning sun bed in the front and it seemed to thrive. I LOVE the dark foliage and the contrasting late-season white flowers.
However, like another poster, mine didn't survive the winter. Someone else mentioned that it seems to prefer wetter areas, so I might try it in a different spot this year.


Apparently this is a VERY late one to sprout, as of today I have a little nub coming back. So I would advise anyone thinking this one is a goner to give it some time.

Positive daryl On Jun 17, 2007, daryl from vernon, BC (Zone 6a) wrote:

A little known species related to the tall Joe pye weed,native to large areas of eastern north america.This new selection has dark bronzy-brown leaves in the spring turning green when the autumn display of fuzzy white flower clusters appear.Excellent for foliage contasts in the border.Attractive to butterflies.Tolerates shade.

Negative Pagancat On Sep 9, 2006, Pagancat from (Sheryl) Gainesboro, TN (Zone 6b) wrote:

Sorry, no personal experience, but did find it in the equine toxic plant list, might be poisonous to other animals as well. Hope this helps.

Positive ifonly On Jun 18, 2006, ifonly from Brookfield, CT wrote:

I have NO clue what caused me to think this plant likes shade, but it's growing under a peegee hydrangea. I do like its late white flowers against its dark leaves - very pretty with dark-leaved cimicifuga and the green-leaved Joe Pye weed in front of my white wood birdhouse with verdigris copper roof. Terrific late season grouping. Let's see what happens when I move it into more sun.

Positive sterhill On Jun 7, 2006, sterhill from Atlanta, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I've not had the invasive problems with this plant but I also mulch well. I have mine in heavy shade as in the sun it wilted and fell over. I had to move it twice to get it out of any afternoon sun. Pretty contrast plant.

Positive Erynne On Jun 6, 2006, Erynne from Orangeville, ON (Zone 4b) wrote:

I have two of these plants; one in moist shade with 2 hrs of filtered sun in the evening and the other in a drier partially-shaded site. The one in moist shade is doing better hands down. I haven't experienced the self-seeding issues as yet but I am a mulch-aholic so this could be why I haven't found any seedlings. I find the growth habit of this plant in my garden to be very tidy at this stage (2nd year plant) and the foliage is very attractive, especially when companion-planted with dark heuchera. Personally, I don't grow it for the flowers and may cut them off when they appear.

September 2006.....go figure, I found a seedling afterall. It's about 8 inches tall now and I'm not sure how I managed to miss it being there. I love the foliage on this plant but you can be certain I'll be snippety-snipping off those buds so they don't get to flower! Another thing I've noticed on my Eupatorium rugosum.....leaf miners! I removed the affected leaves and so far they haven't come back (crossing fingers).

Negative victorgardener On May 15, 2006, victorgardener from Lower Hudson Valley, NY (Zone 6b) wrote:

Could not agree more strenuously with the other negative. The first four or so seasons were great. Nice foliage and pretty late-season white blooms. Then, the horror began and has not stopped. It is one of the WORST re-seeders out there. It will take me years to get rid of it. Don't do it - there are other plants with similar characteristics without the horror.


Neutral bigcityal On Dec 8, 2005, bigcityal from Menasha, WI (Zone 5a) wrote:

I have not got one to make it through the winter yet. Nice for it's flowers and foliage in the shade.

Positive CaptMicha On Oct 13, 2005, CaptMicha from Brookeville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

I had no idea that this was the plant I had growing in my butterfly garden but I just IDed.

My plant was growing in the shade of my common milkweed and butterfly bush and it's COVERED in flowers. I appreciate this plant's ability to produce flowers so late in the season b/c it provides an important nectar source for fall migrating monarchs.

I plan on digging up my sole plant and re-planting where it will get complete sun.

Neutral berryls On Sep 29, 2005, berryls from Dayton, OH wrote:

This plant is beautiful, but is growing wild in my area. It appeared in my border this year where I neglected to pull it due to it's purple leaves. I was astounded at the beautiful tiny white airy flowers. I have another growing in a more negelected part of my property that is in shade and had green leaves.

Negative levilyla On Sep 27, 2005, levilyla from Baltimore, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

This plant reseeds so much that you do not want it anywhere near your perennial border. It may be pretty off in a wild area in early fall, but somehow the seeds seem to arrive back in the border. Everytime I see one I pull and throw away.

Neutral janesdtr On Aug 14, 2005, janesdtr from Pittsburgh, PA (Zone 5b) wrote:

Lovely foliage and vigorous grower in full sun area. I've found the foliage loses the chocolage color and vigor in part-shade/shade. Looks especially pretty when placed near a purple or white buddeleia.

One warning - it self-sows prodigiously! I pull hundreds of seedlings every year.

Positive SJN On Apr 29, 2003, SJN from Conowingo, MD wrote:

I purchased this plant in April 2002 while living in Dundalk, Maryland. At that time I had only a cement backyard and gardened only in containers. Five months later in September we moved to Cecil County, Maryland (USDA Zone 6b/7a.)

All 250 pots of trees, shrubs, perennials, and ground covers were moved to our new - and COLDER - residence.

Today I checked all pots to find that my 'Chocolate' White Snakeroot is doing extremelly well.

Positive Terry On Jan 26, 2003, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

Purchased this plant two seasons ago; so far, it has been very well behaved in a semi-shade bed; the foliage has remained dark, which contrasts nicely with the flowers.


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

San Francisco, California
Brookfield, Connecticut
Dover, Delaware
Atlanta, Georgia
Buford, Georgia
Chicago, Illinois
Glendale Heights, Illinois
Mount Prospect, Illinois
Palmyra, Illinois
Rockford, Illinois
Washington, Illinois
Davenport, Iowa
Sherrill, Iowa
Lawrence, Kansas
Baltimore, Maryland (2 reports)
Brookeville, Maryland
Clarksburg, Maryland
Conowingo, Maryland
Dundalk, Maryland
Lexington, Massachusetts
Rehoboth, Massachusetts
Wakefield, Massachusetts
Bay City, Michigan
Charlevoix, Michigan
Lansing, Michigan
Ludington, Michigan
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Winona, Minnesota
Independence, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri
Hanover, New Hampshire
Hammonton, New Jersey
New Milford, New Jersey
Trenton, New Jersey
Boone, North Carolina
Brevard, North Carolina
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Greensboro, North Carolina
Blaine, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Dayton, Ohio
Toledo, Ohio (2 reports)
Williamsburg, Ohio
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Ambler, Pennsylvania
Mercer, Pennsylvania
Morrisville, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
North Augusta, South Carolina
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Lexington, Virginia
Newport News, Virginia
Clinton, Washington
East Port Orchard, Washington
Fircrest, Washington
Kalama, Washington
Olympia, Washington
Stanwood, Washington
Madison, Wisconsin

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