What to know about White Snakeroot
Have you seen this pretty plant in your yard this month? White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) is a native plant which provides food for late summer and early fall visitors. Some insects that you may observe visiting the plant include Bumble Bees, Small Carpenter Bees, Honey Bees, Painted Lady Butterflies, Skipper Butterflies, and Monarch Butterflies. This plant contains a toxin that can be fatal to mammals. Thus, deer do not eat this plant.
In the 1800s, cows grazed on the plant and their milk contained the toxin. People became sick or died. Abraham Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hinks Lincoln, died after drinking this toxic milk. This is no longer an issue, as milk from many producers is combined and the toxic effects become negligible. Native Americans had medicinal uses for the plant. It is reported that the root was used as a treatment for snake bites and that is how the plant got its name. White Snakeroot will be found growing along the edges of your yard in light shade or partial sun.