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

  • Controlling Weeds Organically

    There are a few routes of organic weed control that are easy and safe for people, pets, and the environment.

  • 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 Take Care of a Yucca Plant

    Yuccas are very common, especially in arid regions of the Americas. The yucca plant is easy to care for and has similar requirements to that of cacti. Proper sunlight and soil, along with watering and fertilizer...


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