_ Cimicifuga racemosa_, a member of the Ranunculaceae family, is sometimes referred to as black snakeroot or bugbane. Black cohosh is described as a dark green, fern-like plant that blooms small plumes of white flowers in late summer. This towering plant can sometimes grow up to six feet tall. The roots and rhizomes are most commonly used and are usually harvested once the plant has reached three to five years in age.
As an herb that normally grows in dense woodland forests, black cohosh prefers rich, moisture-retentive soil in either partial or full shade. Although it can be grown in sunnier locations, it may produce lighter colored foliage, and too much sun exposure could scald leaves. Growth may also be stunted if the surrounding soil is not kept consistently moist.
Black cohosh seeds must undergo stratification to successfully germinate and sprout seedlings. Once stratified (usually for at least three months), the seeds can be planted directly outside in the spring two inches apart. Black cohosh can also be propagated by root division after reaching three years in age by carefully digging up a plant.