rattlesnake master

(Eryngium yuccifolium var. yuccifolium)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

rattlesnake master

NatureServe

N5 - Secure

S3 - Vulnerable

Minnesota

Special Concern

Wetland
Indicator
Status

Great Plains

FACW - Facultative wetland

Midwest

FAC - Facultative

Northcentral & Northeast

FAC - Facultative

Nativity

Native

 
Occurrence

Uncommon

 
Habitat

Moist to slightly dry. Prairies, railroads and abandoned railways. Full sun.

 
Flowering

Early July to mid-August

     
Flower Color

White to purplish

     
Height

16 to 59

     

Identification

This is a 16 to 59 tall, erect, long-lived, perennial forb that rises on a clump of grass-like basal leaves and a single stem from a small, close bundle of tuberous roots.

Most of the leaves are basal. Basal leaves are stalkless, broadly linear, 6 to 32 long, and to 1¼ wide. The leaf blades are stiff, parallel-veined, and taper for most of their length to a sharp point at the tip. The upper and lower surfaces are bluish-green, hairless, and strongly covered with a whitish, waxy substance (glaucous). The margins have widely-spaced, spiny or thread-like, forward-pointing teeth. At least a few basal leaves are present at flowering time.

Stem leaves are few. They are wrap around (clasp) the stem at the base but are otherwise similar to basal leaves. They become progressively much smaller as they ascend the stem.

The stem is erect or ascending, ridged, hairless, and strongly glaucous. It is unbranched except just below the inflorescence.

The inflorescence is a spiny head of numerous small, inconspicuous flowers, appearing singly or as branched cluster of several heads, on a long stalk at the end of the stem and each branch. Each branch of the inflorescence is subtended by a single modified leaf (bract). The inflorescence bracts are much smaller than the leaves and have spiny teeth or lobes on the margins. The flower heads are spherical to egg-shaped, to 1 in diameter, and densely packed with numerous white flowers. They are subtended by a whorl of 6 to 10 bracts. These bracts are narrowly egg-shaped, sharply pointed, 5 16 to long, and untoothed or finely toothed.

Each flower is stalkless and subtended by a single grayish-white, ¼ to long, prickly bractlet. There are 5 sepals, 5 petals, 5 stamens, and 2 styles. The sepals are long, fused at the base for most of their length, and separated at the tip into 5 egg-shaped teeth. The petals are white, oblong, and rounded at the tip. The stamens have long white filaments and light brown anthers. The styles are thread-like and protrude well above the corolla. The flowers have a faint honey-like scent that becomes more intense in strong sunlight. In the fall they turn purplish then brown.

The fruit is a brown, to 5 16 long, 2-chambered seedcase (schizocarp). It is oblong in outline, slightly flattened laterally and tapers to a short, prolonged extension (beak) at the tip. It ripens in early September to mid-October and splits into 2 separate seedcases (mericarps), each with a single seed. Each mericarp has 5 angles but is not ribbed, and has ascending, flattened, papery scales attached to the angles.

 
Similar
Species

No similar species in Minnesota


Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 24, 28, 29, 72.


Comments

Conservation Status
This is a common plant of native tallgrass prairies in the eastern United States. Southeastern Minnesota is the northwest extent of its natural range, but very little tallgrass prairie remains in the state. This habitat loss led the Minnesota DNR to list rattlesnake master as a special concern species in 1984.

Subspecies
There are two subspecies of Eryngium yuccifolium. Only E. y. var. yuccifolium occurs in Minnesota.

What’s in a Name?
The common name rattlesnake master is derived from its traditional use by Native Americans to treat rattlesnake bite. The plant was also used as a diuretic, a sedative, a pain reliever, a tonic, and for cordage.


Taxonomy

Family:

Apiaceae (carrot)

 

Subfamily:

Saniculoideae

 

Tribe:

Saniculeae

 
Synonyms

 

 
Common
Names

button eryngo

button snakeroot

rattlesnake master


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

bract

Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk or flower cluster.

 

bractlet

A small, often secondary bract within an inflorescence; a bract that is borne on a petiole instead of subtending it; bracteole.

 

clasping

Describing a leaf that wholly or partly surrounds the stem but does not fuse at the base.

 

filament

On plants: The thread-like stalk of a stamen which supports the anther. On Lepidoptera: One of a pair of long, thin, fleshy extensions extending from the thorax, and sometimes also from the abdomen, of a caterpillar.

 

glaucous

Pale green or bluish gray due to a whitish, powdery or waxy film, as on a plum or a grape.

 

linear

Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.

 

mericarp

The split, usually one-seeded portion of a dry, multi-seeded fruit.

 

schizocarp

A dry fruit formed from a compound ovary that splits into two or more parts (mericarps) at maturity.

       

Visitor Photos

   
Share your photo of this plant.

Robert Briggs


Fruit

  rattlesnake master    

Kirk Nelson


Dried out

  rattlesnake master    
       

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

  rattlesnake master   rattlesnake master

       
       
       

MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos

   

Habitat

  rattlesnake master   rattlesnake master
       

Plant

  rattlesnake master   rattlesnake master
       
  rattlesnake master    
       

Inflorescence

  rattlesnake master   rattlesnake master
       
  rattlesnake master    
       

Flower Head

  rattlesnake master    
       

Leaves

  rattlesnake master   rattlesnake master
       
       

 

Camera

     

Slideshows

   
  Eryngium yuccifolium RATTLESNAKE MASTER
Frank Mayfield
 
  Eryngium yuccifolium RATTLESNAKE MASTER  

 

slideshow

     

Visitor Videos

   
Share your video of this plant.

     
     

Other Videos

 
  Rattlesnake Master - Eryngium yuccifolium as companion plant at Ion Exchange
Ionxchange
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Aug 7, 2011

Earthyman views Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium) in bloom in companion perennial planting at Ion Exchange native seed and plant nursery in northeast Iowa. http://www.ionxchange.com

 
     
  Rattlesnake Master, Eryngium yuccifolium (part 1)
MrILoveTheAnts
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jul 18, 2010

Not what I would call a "good" nectar plant, but the pollinators that visit it are almost unique to the plant. A Mud Dauber and a Scoliid Wasp are featured in the video. This is what four plants on their first year from the nursery look like. I read the can get much larger and have even more flowers on them.

 
     
  Rattlesnake Master, Eryngium yuccifolium (part 2)
MrILoveTheAnts
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jul 18, 2010

A closer look at a Scoliid Wasp. These wasps dig holes in the lawn to lay eggs in beetle grubs that eat the roots to grass plants.

 
     
  Rattlesnake Master, Eryngium yuccifolium (part 3)
MrILoveTheAnts
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jul 20, 2010

This plant is a Wasp magnet. Many of whom are specialized predators to grubs, spiders, and assorted other garden insects.

 
     
  Dragon fly dancing with rattlesnake master.
LurieGarden
 
   
 
About

Published on Jul 10, 2013

Grant Park Music Festival orchestra rehearsing from the Pritzker Pavilion stage while Mariani arborists prune the Lurie Garden's Shoulder Hedge. Dragon fly and rattlesnake master in foreground.

 
     

 

Camcorder

         

Visitor Sightings

   
Share your sighting of this plant.

Robert Briggs
11/3/2016

Location: Spring Lake Park Reserve

Fruit

rattlesnake master


Kirk Nelson
11/22/2015

Location: Lebanon Hills Regional Park

dried out

rattlesnake master


Kirk Nelson
7/26/2015

Location: Lebanon Hills Regional Park

I noticed only the one plant, but I did not do a thorough examination of the surrounding area.  Another area of the park has been part of a prairie restoration (near the equestrian trailhead); maybe this plant has something to do with that.

rattlesnake master


David Ayer
7/11/2012

Location: Joseph A. Tauer Prairie SNA


     
     
 

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