White Snakeroot Identification

Common & Botanical Name

Common Name
White Snakeroot

Latin Name
Ageratina altissima

Clustered flowers of the White Snakeroot
Clustered flowers of the White Snakeroot
Mature leaf
Mature leaf

Identifying White Snakeroot

White Snakeroot is a perennial that can grow up to 3' tall and branches occasionally. Consumption of White Snakeroot is poisonous to humans and animals due to concentrations of the toxin "temetrol." Consumption in cattle causes a disease commonly referred to as the "Trembles." Poisoning in humans is called "Milk Sickness." Cattle that consume the poisonous plant while producing milk are susceptible to toxic concentrations in the milk. The milk is then toxic to any animal or human that may consume it. Humans who consume tainted milk, or the plant directly, can develop symptoms of trembling, vomiting, and severe intestinal pain. Repeated exposure eventually leads to death.

Abraham Lincoln's mother succumbed to milk poisoning, as well as many early settlers in America.

Hardwood timber areas, woodlands, pastures. Prefers shaded areas.

White snakeroot leaves grow opposite and up to 6 inches long. The leaves are serrated along the edges. Young leaves are lanceolate, while mature leaves are more broad.

The flowers grow in clusters and are small and white, slightly similar to the flowers of Queen Anne's Lace.

Seeds: The seeds are black and angular, measuring about 3mm long with a tuft of white hairs.

Roots: The root system is fibrous, branched and tough with hardy rhizomes.

Eradicating White Snakeroot

White Snakeroot is difficult to eradicate and chemical herbicides may not be ideal to use in certain situations, such applying a spray within a pasture. Pulling the plant and roots out of the ground and burning it is usually effective. Burning the plant(s) will prevent future germination of seeds. A glyphosate herbicide is usually effective if the location of the snakeroot allows safe usage. Directions on herbicide labels must always be followed correctly. Personal protection equipment must always be used also.


More by this Author

  • Kudzu Vine Identification

    Kudzu (Pueraria montana) is a highly invasive deciduous, semi-woody, perennial vine. Kudzu kills trees, shrubs, and crops by girdling them. Girdling cuts off water and nutrient movement within the plants. Kudzu can also...

  • How to Use Vinegar to Kill Weeds

    Vinegar is effective as a weed killer due to its ability to draw moisture out of foliage. Household vinegar may also be used in combination with other household items, like salt and dish detergent, to kill weeds....

  • How to Propagate a Jade Plant

    Jade is a succulent plant native to South Africa, and is a very common houseplant. Jade is easy to care for, requires little watering, and is easily propagated. Propagating jade is the most rewarding part of growing...


No comments yet.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article