Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)

Ranunculaceae or Buttercup Family

Black Cohosh plant  

Tall plant with long, tall flower spikes.  The large leaves are divided into many leaflets that are sharply toothed, and sometimes also lobed.  The flowers are starbursts of stamens around the central pistil.  Petals are minute, hidden behind the stamens, and sepals fall off early.  The flowers are arrayed in long clusters and open from the top down.

Occasional in the deep woods on both slopes.  Blooms in midsummer.

In bloom, the plant is almost unmistakable, with its tall ethereal spikes glowing in the shady forest.  American bugbane (Cimicifuga americana) is very similar, differing in the shape of the pistil, but it has not been reported from Wildwood.  Without the flowerstalks, the leaves are still fairly distinctive, since not many things in Wildwood have leaves divided into so many leaflets.