Two Eryngium yuccifolium plants in my flower garden.
By guest author Avery Bartlett-Golden
Since receiving fifty or so plants from my herbaceous perennials class last year, and losing the tags for them shortly after they were planted, I have tried my best to guess what I planted. Some plants are easy to identify like the giant hyssops at the back of the perennial bed and the orange milkweed. Other plants are rather surprising, like what I thought was a cardinal flower that turned out to be a sneezeweed. There was also a pair of leathery, long leafed plants that looked a bit out of place. The plants started growing a long stalk that ended in odd green flowers. Digging around in the flower bed I found the tag. These plants are Eryngium yuccifolium, also known as Rattlesnake master.
It is said that Native Americans used the root of Eryngium yuccifoliumto treat rattlesnake bites and so the plant became known as rattlesnake master. There are a number of other interesting names for this plant, too: Button eryngo, Button snakeroot, Beargrass, and Bear's grass.
The green flowers of the rattlesnake master plant in summer
and berries on the plant in autumn.
Rattlesnake master is listed as native to the prairies of North America, including fifty counties in North Carolina, and is a member of the carrot family. With leathery leaves and some spines, it appears to be deer resistant. The most surprising part of the plant are its green flowers -- thistly petal-less green balls -- on the end of a three to four foot stalk. By fall, the flowers have given way to dark fruit resembling blackberries.
Rattlesnake master would make a great addition to a dense perennial bed or border and offers a nice sharpness to contrast with other more common perennials. It can even potentially be used to complement or replace stick verbena and other tall screening plants. With its unique foliage and striking architectural shape, Rattlesnake master can bring a novel crispness to a planting.
Guest author Avery Bartlett-Golden is a Horticulture Science major at North Carolina State University. He is currently studying abroad in Valencia, Spain.
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Annette Bartlett-Golden paints a wide range of subjects from landscapes to animals and makes abstract works with paper. Using vibrant colors, she imparts a sense of immediacy, vivacity and optimism to her paintings and paper collages.