Fall has begun, as seen by changing color and seed formation. This photo shows seed heads of white snakeroot, Ageratina altissima (old name, Eupatorium rugosum). The plant contains a toxin that can cause severe toxicity in grass-eating animals and in humans. The toxin also enters the milk of lactating animals, making the milk toxic to their young and to humans who ingest it. Milk sickness is thought to have caused the death of the mother of President Abraham Lincoln. This attractive wildflower is widespread, grows easily in moist shade or part-shade. It blooms in late summer and attracts a variety of insects. Snakeroot can be confused with the herb boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum.
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