Name This Plant: I Know What it Isn’t


I’ve not seen so many honeybees in a long while as the number I found on the tall white lilies behind Zion Lutheran–a plant that until I took a closer look at it just now, I’d identified in error as Fly Poison. (Link is to Google Images of that plant for comparison to the image above.)

It isn’t, I now admit to my systematic botanical horror. And with the wife still asleep and me leaving for work soon, I can’t sneak upstairs and find my Newcombs Field Guide to steer me back in the direction of a correct ID.

So take a look at the larger version of this shot (with the bee hovering in the middle) and if anybody knows what this plant is, I’m ready to be humbled. I think I know it, but can’t retrieve a name. Flowers are a bit like a meadow rue, but everything else is wrong. I can’t remember what the leaf looks like, but I don’t think there were basal like Fly Poison.

For scale, the tallest plants of pure white flowers stand taller than my head (> 6 feet).

UPDATE: The big DUH: the flower is Black Cohosh. Common. Familiar. Forgotten. Early botanical dementia. So sad.

Share this with your friends!

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

Articles: 3013


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. It’s Black Cohosh – very prominent on the Blue Ridge Parkway at this time of the year. The best stand ( a B&W photo with the right light) is just north of the turnoff to Morrisette Winery on the BRP

    Cimicifuga racemosa