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White Snakeroot - Ageratina altissima

White Snakeroot - Ageratina altissima

Ageratina altissima, or White Snakeroot, is a perennial wildflower native to Michigan and the UP. This is a great forest-edge ground cover, with a typical height of 2 feet, though it may grow taller depending on conditions. It prefers part shade in moist, humusy soils, but will tolerate full sun to full shade, and does reasonably well in dry soil with a bit of shade. Blooms in late summer with a cluster of foamy white flowers; even the fluffy seed heads are attractive.


Bees, butterflies, and moths utilize the flowers, while the foliage supports caterpillars, which in turn feed young birds. Adult birds feed on the seeds. Note that White Snakeroot contains a toxin which causes "the trembles" in cattle and other livestock. This plant does not taste good and herbivores, including cattle and deer, avoid it. Most issues occur when the pasture is overgrazed and Snakeroot is the only thing to eat. As a precaution, avoid planting it near pastures. One thing which is immune to the toxin is the dramatic Ruby Tiger Moth, for whom White Snakeroot is the host plant.


This plant spreads by seeds and rhizomes, and its enthusiastic spreading is being investigated as a control for forest invasives, such as Gout/Bishop's/Eastside Weed. If you try it as a control for invasives, please report back on your results! We will be trying it here on invasive Lily of the Valley. This plant is not suited for small spaces, unless you are fine with it dominating. But, its propensity to spread is what gives it the ability to do battle with invasive plants, provide copious habitat resources and beauty, and fill space with a beneficial native plant with little effort or expense. Now available by the plug flat to help you fill the world with native plants!

  • Page updated April 2024

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