Button Snakeroot on Babcock’s Prairie in northeast Iowa. USA
This wildflower is not endangered but is on the “concerned” list
of prairie wildflowers. I was happy to find quite a few of these on
this particular prairie!! Very unique and beautiful.
Eryngium yuccifolium (Rattlesnake Master)
Plant Info Also known as: Button Eryngo, Button Snakeroot
Family: Apiaceae (Carrot)
Life cycle: perennial
Habitat: sun; moist to dry sandy, loamy soil; prairies, open woods
Bloom season: July – August
Plant height: 2 to 5 feet
Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: panicle Cluster type: round
Whitish green globe-like flowerheads, ½ to ¾ inch wide, are arrayed in an orbital cluster at the end of a tall, smooth stalk. Each flower head is composed of numerous small flowers with 5 white petals, notched at the tip, 2 long white styles, and 5 white stamens with greenish to brown tips. Surrounding each flower are prickly floral bracts. At the base of the flower head is a whorl of leafy bracts, lance-like and prickly. A plant has a few to many clusters from the leaf axils and on branching stems in the upper part of the plant.
Leaves are mostly basal, long and sword-like with parallel veins and tapering to a sharp point, up to 2½ feet long and only 1 inch wide with a few smaller leaves ascending the stem. Stem leaves are stiff, clasp the stem and typically wrap around it. Leaf surfaces are waxy, the edges either smooth or commonly with widely spaced, fine spiny teeth. Stems are hairless, blue-green, waxy, and ridged.
The flower heads turn purplish in the fall and eventually dry to a dark brown.
Seed is dark brown, 3-sided, just under 1/8 inch long, the layered remains of the floral bracts attached at the top on 2 sides with the third side smooth and flat.