Plants of New Jersey # 10 – Blue Cohosh

Welcome! Today we are going to discuss Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) which is part of the Berberidaceae (Barberry) family of plants. Blue Cohosh is native to the eastern United States. The foliage of Blue Cohosh resembles Meadow Rue. This plant’s wetland indicator status is UPL which means 99% of the time it is found growing in uplands (dry land). You will typically find Blue Cohosh growing in rocky areas in shade. The plant grows 1 -2 feet tall. 

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Blue Cohosh in Bloom

The flowers of Blue Cohosh, as shown in the picture above, are yellow/green in color. Sometimes they appear purplish. It’s interesting to note that the flowers appear before the leaves have fully leafed out. The picture above shows the leaves still unfurling. The flowers usually appear from April to June.  Flies and bees are known to pollinate this plant.

Blue Cohosh (2)

Blue Cohosh in Seed

In summer, the flowers give way to seeds with a thin blue coat which makes them appear like berries. While they are attractive and superficially resemble blueberries, do not eat them or any part of this plant! It is poisonous. The seeds appear from late July into early September.

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2 thoughts on “Plants of New Jersey # 10 – Blue Cohosh

  1. WanderingCanadians

    A few days ago I was on a hike and saw this plant and thought its berries resembled blueberries, but couldn’t actually be a blueberry bush. Now I know what it’s called (and glad that I didn’t eat the berries!!) Thanks!

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