Veronicastrum virginicum

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Culver's root
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Plantaginaceae
Genus: Veronicastrum
Species: V. virginicum
Binomial name
Veronicastrum virginicum
(L.) Farw.

Veronicastrum virginicum (Culver's root, Culver's-root, Culverphysic, Culver's physic, Bowman's root, black root; syn. Leptandra virginica (L.) Nutt., Veronica virginica L.[1][2]) is a wildflower native to the United States from southern Maine to northwest Florida to northern Louisiana up through Minnesota and a bit north of the Canada–US border; good for USDA zones of 3 to 8.

Veronicastrum virginicum is an erect perennial herb that grows 80–150 cm (31–59 in) in height or other sources say 3 to 7 ft (0.9 to 2.1 m) high, though usually it is about 5 ft (1.5 m) high. The leaves are serrated and arranged in whorls of 3-7 around the stem. The inflorescence is erect with slender and spike-like racemes to about 9 in (23 cm) long and give the flower cluster a "candelabra appearance.". The stamens are crowded and protrude in a brush-like fashion perpendicular to the raceme . The corollas are white and are roughly 2 mm (0.08 in). in length. These plants flower about a month long anywhere from mid-June to late August, depending on latitude.[3]

Culver's root is frequently found in wet to wet-mesic prairies and sometimes moist upland sites.[3] It is also found in a good number of prairie or native meadow restorations.

Culver's root is cultivated as a garden flower in the Eastern and Central United States around its native range.[2] Most native plant nurseries commonly sell this easy and adaptable perennial. Even some conventional nurseries sell this plant, though it is not common yet in American landscapes and gardens. It grows in full sun to part shade and most any well-drained soil. It is easy to dig up, divide, and reset like a good number of standard perennials if they get too large or crowded. It stays as an upright clump and does not spread far. Plants usually stay upright and don't fall over much and don't need staking; however, it is possible for an older clump to do so and it can be pruned down in late May or dug up, divided, and reset to avoid such. This plant does do some self-sowing with its tiny seed. The Lurie Garden in downtown Chicago, Illinois, uses the cultivar of 'Diane' because it is more compact growing.

Culver's root has been used medicinally for liver disorders and constipation. It is a long-time American doctors' remedy for liver congestion with accompanying constipation. It is sometimes considered when compounding a formula for the liver, gallbladder, to treat constipation, colitis, gallstones and hepatitis.[4] It gets its name of Culver's-Root from a certain Dr. Culver who was a pioneer physician of the 18th century and used its bitter roots for purgative purposes. Its medical use can be dangerous.[citation needed]

The larvae of the Culver's root borer moth feed on this plant.[5]


  1. ^ "Veronicastrum virginicum". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. 
  2. ^ a b Clausen, Ruth Rogers; Ekstrom, Nicholas H. (1989). Perennials for American Gardens. New York: Random House. 
  3. ^ a b Gleason, Henry; Cronquist, Arthur (1991). Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. New York, New York: D. Van Nostrand Company. 
  4. ^ Natural Cures - North America
  5. ^ Wagner, David L. (2011). Owlet Caterpillars of Eastern North America. Princeton University Press. 


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