Index- plants in this Family
Apiaceae / Carota
Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium)
Rattlesnake Master is also known as Button Snakeroot and officially as Button Eryngo.

Plant Type: This is a herbaceous plant, it is a perennial which can reach a height of 2 Meters (7 feet ) . More commonly only half that height.
Leaves: The leaves are alternate. Each leaf is linear, acute, parallel veined, with sharp narrow spines along the margin and wrap the stem at the base.
Flowers: The flower parts are not easily discernable with the naked eye . They are green sometimes white. Sometimes bluish when mature. Blooms first appear in mid summer and continue into late summer. There are five petals. The flowers are in tight, firm rounded heads in branched terminal clusters.
Habitat: Wet or dry, usually well drained, open areas or thin woods
Range: Nebraska to Virginia south and in scattered locations north at least to Canada.

      Color Photo     More Info      Classification

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The parallel veining of the leaves is unusual in Dicotyledones (Dicots) and might make one think it is a Monocotyledone (Monocot) which it is not. The species name refers to the similarity this plant has with the Yuccas which it is not closely related. The unusual form and hardiness of this species has earned it a place in many gardens as a specimen plant and the seeds are available from several commercial sources.

Lore: The trader James Adair spent years among the Chickasaw in the 18th century and wrote about their use of this species. He reported witnessing a shaman spit chewed root on his hands and then safely take up a rattlesnake. Adair and others reported many medical and ceremonial uses of this plant by Native Americans ranging from the treating of venereal disease, snake bite, worms and impotence. It was tried by white physicians into the 19th century but no evidence has been found to support any of these uses and the plant fell into disuse. (Dobelis) (Foster & Duke)

Medical Uses: Though there is no evidence to support the traditional uses of this species it may have some value it treating inflammations and malaria. The closely related European species Sea-Holly (Eryngium maritimum) has long been thought medicinal. The roots were candied and used as a diuretic, expectorant, stimulant and to treat coughs, consumption and nervous disorders. (Dobelis) (Rickett) (Foster & Duke) (Grieve)

Similar Species: The parallel veins of the leaves distinguish this from other similar Eryngiums.

See the links below this image for other images. (1)
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Button Snakeroot (Eryngium yuccifolium) - leaf detail  © Daniel Reed

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More Info:  
The Search below may provide more information about this species. Some of URLs may have been used as a source for this page not otherwise cited. Most of the information not cited comes from multiple sources that can be found in the Books page. The USDA plant links are provided by: USDA, NRCS 1999. The PLANTS database ( National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA. You can check species names at ITIS Advanced Search to see if they meet the current ITIS taxonomic criteria.

By: Newcomb, Lawrence and Illustrated by Morrison, Gordon. 1977, Little, Brown and Company, ISBN:0-316-60442-9

One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.

Wildflo wers of Tennessee the Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians
By: Dennis Horn and Tavia Cathcart and Thomas E. Hemmerly and David Duhl. , ISBN:1551054280

This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.

Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Dicots / Two Seed Leaves



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