Black Cohosh

Historical Background

Black cohosh was one of the many important and distinctive remedies that the pioneers learned about from the Native Americans. Members of all the important medical schools of the nineteenth century, including the allopaths, homeopaths, Eclectics, and physio-medicalists, used it. It has proven to be a widely useful medicine. It not only acts on important and common physical problems but also has properties that run in a deep psychological vein. Today it is still widely used, both by the more scientific phytotherapists and the traditional community of herbalists drawing on expanded lore.

Black cohosh can easily be grown from seeds. It can also be propagated by breaking up the crown, but this is more tedious and does not yield as many plants. The seeds need to be stratified in a sequence of warm temperature, followed by cold for several months, and then warm again. The reason for this is to mimic the conditions of the central temperate region, where black cohosh grows wild, ripening its seeds in midsummer. It can be sown in the ground right then and will sprout the following spring.
Farther north it does not ripen its seeds until August. This seems to be a limiting factor–causing it not to propagate naturally in the climes, since the seeds need warm, cold, warm stratification. If you do this artificially, the seeds will be ready to sprout in the spring.

Although Cimicifuga is native to woodlands, it is readily cultured in the sunlight, hence it can be grown fairly easily as a crop. This is important, since it is widely used in traditional and modern herbal medicine. This is one plant we should not be exterminating in the wild.

UpS Recommendations:

  • No wild harvest is recommended at this time.
  • Purchase cultivated resources.
  • Possible alternatives include yucca for musculoskeletal concerns; skullcap for headache relief, mood swings, and anxiety; and pulsatilla, motherwort, and chaste berries for general substitution.

~Matthew Wood, Planting the Future, pg. 64, 70-71



This plant has been adopted by



Black Cohosh 1 – The Plant Detective by Flora Delaterre
Black Cohosh II – The Plant Detective by Flora Delaterre