Rattlesnake Master at Cowles Prairie

Family:     Apiaceae (Carrot family)

Duration:  Perennial

Height:     150 cm (up to 5 ft)

Blooming: July-Sept.


Rattlesnake Master

Eryngium yuccifolium  Michx.

Stem: has multiple flower heads (10 to 40) with the central flower head having an average of 106 little flowers on it.  

Flowers: are densely packed, 3.8 cm (1.5 in) diameter, prickly balls with 5 white petals, 5 green sepals, 2 ovules, 2 extended styles, and 5 stamens. 


Leaves: are stiff strap-like, blue-green, sharp-tipped, 6.4 cm wide (2.5 in) by 76 cm long (2.5 ft), with parallel veins and scattered bristles on the margins.  Form in circular pattern at the base of the plant. Leaf arrangement is opposite.

Fruits: flower heads become reddish brown at maturity.

Sun: Full sun

INPAWS Native Communities:  Prairie Grassland (sun)



Eryginium yuccifolium at Cowles Prairie
Rattlesnake Master at Cowles Prairie

Comments:  The flowers smell like honey. Rattlesnake master is xenogamous.  

Etymology: Eryginium is derived from the ancient Greco-Latin name for the plant, Sea Holly. The epithet comes from its leaves (folia) which look like the leaves of a Yucca plant, thus, yuccifolium. The common name comes from the belief that the plant is a remedy for snakebites which was officially placed in the U.S. Pharmacopeia 1820-1860 (Mathias 1994). 



Mathias, M. E. 1994. Magic, myth and medicine. Economic Botany 48.1: 3-7.

all photos by Nathanael Pilla

Species Present and Native