Eryngium yuccifolium

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Plant types and subtypes: Perennials

Light Requirements: sun, part-sun

Water Use: low

Soil Moisture: dry, moist

Soil Description: average, poor, clay, sand, gravel/rock

Height: 3'-5'

Bloom Time: June, July, August

Bloom Color: white

Leaf Color: blue-green, gray-green

Hardiness Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Additional Tags: attracts bees, attracts birds, attracts butterflies, clumping, cottage garden plant, cut flowers, deer resistant, dried flowers, drought tolerant, fragrant flowers, naturalizing, ornamental foliage

Eryngium yuccifolium (button eryngo)
  • Eryngium yuccifolium (button eryngo)
  • Eryngium yuccifolium (button eryngo)
  • Eryngium yuccifolium (button eryngo)
  • Eryngium yuccifolium (button eryngo)

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Description

Eryngium yuccifolium

Also known as:

button eryngo

,

tall rattlesnake master

,

rattlesnake master

,

button snakeroot

Scientific Synonyms:

Description

Eryngium yuccifolium is a herbaceous perennial with unusual and striking characteristics that are sure to make it stand out in any garden or naturalized setting. The entire plant has a distinctive bluish-grey cast to it, and can grow up to 5' tall when in bloom. The leaves are stiff, sword-like, bear small spike-like teeth along the margin, and an have overall appearance reminiscent to those of yucca, hence the specific epithet yuccifolium. The foliage is primarily basal, forming large rosettes with individual leaves that can be up to 2 1/2' long. These become sparser and considerably smaller as they move up the unbranched, stiff central stem of the plant. The flowers form round, white, golf ball size heads, and are predominantly borne in clusters atop short terminal branched stems, with a few flowers emerging from the axils of the upper leaves. They are mildly fragrant, with a vanilla-like aroma that is more pronounced during the hottest hours of the day. The blooming period begins around mid-summer, and although the flowers only last about a month, the ball-like heads are attractive well before and long after, providing visual interest from early summer through mid-fall.

Cultivation

Button eryngo is easy to grow and trouble free. Full sun is best, and any well-drained, moist to dry soil will do. If grown with too much shade, or overly rich soil, the stems can become weak and have a tendency to topple over. It produces a taproot, making it drought tolerant, but also difficult to transplant once established. To avoid any need for staking, it is best planted in groups, or mixed in with other tall perennials and grasses that will provide some additional support. Individual plants are short-lived and might die after flowering, however not before producing offshoots. It is well-behaved, producing dense clumps over time. It can spread by seed, particularly in disturbed areas, but is not aggressive; in large part because the seeds are very attractive to birds and are usually consumed first. Zones 4-10

Propagation

Young offshoots can be separated with care from mature clumps however, due to the taproots, plants are best left undisturbed. Easy to propagate from seed.

Additional Notes

This species is unaffected by foliar diseases, very attractive to pollinators, and unpalatable to deer and other herbivores. While members of the Eryngium genus have flowers more reminiscent of thistles, the perfectly round heads of E. yuccifolium are rather unique. Once used to treat snake bites, this led to the common names rattlesnake master, and button snakeroot.

Native Range & Classification

Recorded County Distribution: USDA data

Native Range:
AL, AR, CT, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NE, NJ, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA, WI

USDA Endangered Status:

  • Endangered: MD
  • Extirpated: MD
  • Threatened: MI, OH

Classification

Kingdom Plantae Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida Dicotyledons
Subclass Rosidae
Order Apiales
Family Apiaceae Carrot family
Genus Eryngium eryngo
Species Eryngium yuccifolium button eryngo