Cimicifuga racemosa

Black Cohosh



Bare Root Plants
Out of Stock

3 Pack
Out of Stock

Black Cohosh requires some patience - often taking 5 years to reach maturity and bloom - but the spectacular results make the wait worthwhile!  This species sets pearly white buds that extend straight out from the flowering stem, looking like a foot-long molecule strand.  As the spring weather warms up, those suspended atoms burst open with loads of frilly white blossoms.  Once each raceme is in full bloom, the appearance shifts from scientific structures to ethereal candelabras, best enjoyed against a lush green or dark-hued backdrop to showcase the enchanting blooms.  These plants are described as rather odoriferous, exuding a musty funk for many passersby and a distinct note of rot or decay for more sensitive noses.  Despite this often off-putting scent, scores of native bees and bumblebees will buzz the blossoms.  

Cimifuga racemosa grows best in partial to full shade; too much direct sunlight can stunt its growth and scorch its foliage.  This true woodland plant excels in rich, humus-y soils that retain a moderate amount of moisture.  It will adapt to many sites outside of a wooded area, but the flowering stalks may need to be staked if the plant is not sheltered from strong winds.  Its dark green foliage maintains a polite mounding form and will slowly spread from its twining, rhizomatous roots to fill in shaded spaces over the course of many years.      

Depending on where it is planted within its native range, Black Cohosh is a larval host plant for several Azure butterflies including the Spring Azure, Appalachian Azure, and Holly Azure.  It produces both pollen and nectar, making it a favorite for a wide assortment of native pollinators.  Many songbirds enjoy perching along the towering stems and taking shelter within the dense leaves.  Cimifuga racemosa is deer and rabbit resistant, especially once it is established.  It is considered rare in several states.  

Commonly called Bugbane, the peculiar smell was once thought to repel some insects, including bedbugs.  Black Cohosh roots have historically been used to treat a variety of ailments, although the top growth is poisonous.  

Scientific names also in use: Actaea racemosa. 
Other common names include Bugbane, Black Bugbane, Black Snakeroot, and Fairy Candles.

Live Plant Shipping Table

Spring Fall Age/Size
Dormant Bare Roots April/May October 1-2 year
Potted 3-Packs N/A September 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep pots

Cimicifuga racemosa - Black Cohosh

Map Key

Present in state
Present but introduced in county
Present and native in county; not rare
Not present in state
Present and native in county; rare
Species extirpated (historic)
State or county listed as noxious
Present in state; exotic

This map shows the native and introduced (adventive) range of this species. Given appropriate habitat and climate, native plants can be grown outside their range.

2 Questions asked on Cimicifuga racemosa

Is this the same as Actaea cordifolia?
Hi Sherry. I did some research and, no, A. cordifolia is synonymous with A. podocarpa, a native plant that we don't carry. It has a smaller native range in and around the Appalachian mountains than this A. racemosa, but the growing conditions of medium soil and partial shade seem very similar.
Hello. I am very intrigued by this plant, but concerned about the smell (as noted in the description). I'm sure that it varies by weather conditions, but is there a sense of how far the scent travels? Would 5-6 feet from open windows cause a problem?
Hello Scott, It is a very appealing species! I talked with our growers and the results vary. One of our greenhouse growers has a very sensitive nose and would not recommend planting near a window with any cross breeze. Others I have talked with do not think the smell is too overpowering. If you may be more sensitive it may not be the best option for your immediate window view. I hope this helps.


Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.

Each species is different, so be sure to check the GERMINATION CODE listed on the website, in the catalog, or on your seed packet. Then, follow the GERMINATION INSTRUCTIONS prior to planting. Some species don't need any pre-treatment to germinate, but some species have dormancy mechanisms that must be broken before the seed will germinate. Some dormancy can be broken in a few minutes, but some species take months or even years.

Seed dormancy can be broken artificially by prolonged refrigeration of damp seed in the process of cold/moist STRATIFICATION. A less complicated approach is to let nature handle the stratifying through a dormant seeding, sowing seeds on the surface of a weed-free site in late fall or winter. Tucked safely beneath the snow, seeds will be conditioned by weathering to make germination possible in subsequent growing seasons.

To learn more, read our BLOG: How to Germinate Native Seeds

Dormant Bare Root Plants

We dig plants when they are dormant from our outdoor beds and ship them April-May and October. Some species go dormant in the summer and we can ship them July/August. We are among the few still employing this production method, which is labor intensive but plant-friendly. They arrive to you dormant, with little to no top-growth (bare-root), packed in peat moss. They should be planted as soon as possible. Unlike greenhouse-grown plants, bare-root plants can be planted during cold weather or anytime the soil is not frozen. A root photo is included with each species to illustrate the optimal depth and orientation. Planting instructions/care are also included with each order.

Download: Installing Your Bare-Root Plants

Potted Plants

3-packs and trays of 32, 38, or 50 plants leave our Midwest greenhouses based on species readiness (being well-rooted for transit) and order date; Spring shipping is typically early May through June, and Fall shipping is mid-August through September. Potted 3-packs and trays of 38 plugs are started from seed in the winter so are typically 3-4 months old when they ship. Trays of 32/50 plugs are usually overwintered so are 1 year old. Plant tray cells are approximately 2” wide x 5” deep in the trays of 38 and 50, and 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep in the 3-packs and trays of 32; ideal for deep-rooted natives. Full-color tags and planting & care instructions are included with each order.

Download: Planting and Care of Potted Plants

*PLEASE NOTE: we are a mail order nursery and have no retail facilities, but you may pick up your order if prior arrangements are made. Pick up orders are subject to **MN Sales Tax.

US Shipping & Handling Charges

SEED $100.00 and under: $5.00
Retail SEED orders over $100.00 ship free!

Custom seed mixes or discounted seed sales over $100, add 5% of the total seed cost
(for orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required)

BARE ROOT and POTTED PLANTS $50.00 and under: $9.00
over $50.00: 18% of the total plant cost. (For orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required.)

TOOLS and BOOKS have the shipping fee included in the cost of the product (within the contiguous US).

**We are required to collect state sales tax in certain states. Your state's eligibility and % will be calculated at checkout. MN State Sales Tax of 7.375% is applied for orders picked up at our MN location. Shipping & handling charges are also subject to the sales tax.

Shipping Season

SEED, TOOLS and BOOKS are sent year-round. Most orders ship within 1-3 business days.

BARE ROOT PLANTS are shipped during optimal transplanting time: Spring (April-May) and Fall (Oct). Some ephemeral species are also available for summer shipping. Since our plants are field-grown, Nature sets the schedule each year as to when our season will begin and end. We fill all orders, on a first-come, first-serve basis, to the best of our ability depending on weather conditions beyond our control.

POTTED PLANTS (Trays of 32/38/50 plugs and 3-packs) typically begin shipping early May and go into June; shipping time is heavily dependent on all the species in your order being well-rooted. If winter-spring greenhouse growing conditions are favorable and all species are well-rooted at once, then we ship by order date (first come, first serve). We are a Midwest greenhouse, and due to the challenges of getting all the species in the Mix & Match and Pre-Designed Garden Kits transit-ready at the same time, we typically can't ship before early May. Earlier shipment requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

*We are unable to ship PLANTS (bare root or potted) outside the contiguous US or to CALIFORNIA due to regulations.


We ship using USPS, UPS and Spee Dee. UPS and Spee Dee are often used for expediting plant orders; they will not deliver to Post Office Box numbers, so please also include your street address if ordering plants. We send tracking numbers to your email address so please include it when you order.



Germination Code
Life Cycle
Sun Exposure
Partial, Shade
Soil Moisture
Medium-Wet, Medium
7 feet
Bloom Time
May, June, July, August, September
Bloom Color
Pollinator Favorite: butterflies, moths, bees, wasps, beetles
Bird Favorite: seeds, insects, fruit, nectar, nesting, perch
Deer Resistant
Highly recommended for home landscaping
USDA Zones
Plant Spacing
Catalog Code