USDA NRCS. Wetland flora: Field office illustrated guide to plant species. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Provided by NRCS National Wetland Team
Where Commonly Found: Meadows, fields, disturbed land.
How to Identify:
(For unfamiliar words: Wikipedia Glossary of Botanical Terms).
Go Botany Key for Eryngium yuccifolium.
Missouri Botanical Garden’s description of Eryngium yuccifoloium. Click on more images.
Flower Type: Prickly balls of greenish white flowers at stems ends and sometimes from axils of upper leaves. Individual flowers are about 1/2″ – 1″ across with 5 white petals, a divided white pistil and white stamens with light brown anthers. A star-like rosette of small leaves occur just below the flower ball. Scent in bright sun is considered a sickly honey smell.
Flower Time: June – September
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate leaves mostly at the base of the plant with a few smaller leaves along the upper portion of the stout central, unbranched, except near the flowers, stem. Base leaves wrap around the stem. Whole plant is bluish-green and hairless.
Leaf Type: Long, strap-like, narrowly lanceolate leaves, 2-1/2″ long and 2-1/2″ wide, down-ward curved. Stiff, widely scattered teeth along the margins.
Height: 4′- 5′
Seed Collection: Seeds turn brown when ripe in the fall. Tap the seed heads to drop the seeds into a bag. Air dry and store.
Attracts: Bees, Butterflies, Birds, Beneficial Insects
Use: Garden or Naturalizing
Light: Full Sun
Hardiness Zone: USDA Zone Map
Soils: Dry to Moist
Notes: Eryngium yuccifolium (Rattlesnake Master) is an excellent pollinator and beneficial insect attractor with sword-shaped leaves and long lasting, thistle-like flower heads. What’s not to like!
Native to Central Eastern Seaboard, Midwest and a little bit of Connecticut, so not really native to New England, but the pollinators still love it: Biota of North America Program (BONAP) – North American Plant Atlas (NAPA).