Rattlesnake Master



Botanical Name:  Eryngium yuccifolium

Common Name:  Rattlesnake Master, Button Snakeroot

Description:  Rattlesnake Master is a pretty cool looking native perennial wildflower that occurs in flatwoods, sandhills, savannas and marshes throughout Florida. Its greenish-white, ball-shaped flowers bloom in late spring through fall and have a honey-like fragrance. They are frequented by a variety of pollinators, but are of special value to native bees. The plant is a larval host for the Black Swallowtail butterfly and the Rattlesnake Master Borer Moth (Papaipema eryngii). and attracts many predatory and parasitoid insects that prey on garden pests. These insects usually go for the nectar, but some of the bees also collect pollen for their brood nests.  It also attracts bats, which I think is very cool. Grows 3–5’ tall x 1–3’ wide. The plant is characterized by alternate, long, narrow blue-green leaves with a sharp tip. Widely scattered stiff spines are along the leaf margins. Will grow in a variety of light conditions: sun, part sun, or part shade. However, if the stems flop over, that’s usually a sign of not enough sun. Rattlesnake Master is a good choice for difficult areas because it is adaptable to a variety of soil and moisture conditions. It does well in low-nutrient or fertile soils, but is not salt tolerant. Its unique growth habit, interesting flower form, and attractive foliage make it a nice addition to wildflower gardens and naturalistic landscapes. Would grow great in your rain garden, but it also adapts just fine to regular garden moisture.

This plant is a member of the carrot family (Apiaceae or Umbelliferae). Break or crush a leaf, and the aroma will give it away. Rattlesnake Master contains many of the same oils and other secondary compounds as parsley, carrot, and parsnip.

Not salt tolerant of inundation by salty or brackish water. Low/no tolerance of salty wind or direct salt spray.

This plant in 1-gallon containers is 1-2′ tall.

Plant Lore:  The species epithet yuccifolium references the leaves (Latin: folium) that resemble those of Yucca species. Native Americans used the plant for various medicinal purposes, leading pioneers to (erroneously) believe the plant to be an antidote to rattlesnake venom. Timucuan and Creek Indians also used the roots to treat neuralgia and the leaves for dysentery.

Florida Hardiness Zones 8 – 10

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