I-Spy White Snakeroot in the woods.

Oxbow Photo by Mike Caswell

This plant is in full flower right now, in the lower part of Oxbow Woods fairly near the trail.   I had no idea what it was, so sent a photo to Ellen Folts of Amanda’s Garden. As usual, Ellen was quick to identify the plant and reply to me.

Sten PorseOwn photo, taken in Jutland.

Ageratina altissima  Or White Snakeroot  is well described in the link Ellen sent me   – http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/woodland/plants/wh_snakeroot.htm
Wikipedia’s comments are also interesting, and they describe the plant as being indigenous to the North Eastern United States.  It’s also highly toxic to cattle and will contaminate meat and milk, making them poisonous to humans.The poisoning was called ‘Milk Sickness’.


Thousands of settlers were killed by ‘Milk Sickness’ until Dr. Anna Pierce Hobbs Bixby  was taught about the plant by a Shawnee woman, so yet another plant in The Oxbow woods has mysterious properties.  Abraham Lincoln’s mother was believed to have been killed by White Snakeroot.

“This plant may serve medicinal purposes. Root tea has been used to treat diarrhea, kidney stones, and fever. A root poultice can be used on snakebites.[8]”

Author: Mike Caswell

I live in Fairport, and my home is at The Oxbow section of The Erie Canal. I fish, have a pontoon boat and like messing in boats. (see www.mud-skipper.com). I'm retired and enjoy every day living here with my wife Carol and our two dogs.

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