Culver’s Root: An Introduction

When I am accompanied in my walks among the meadow wildflowers in Eliza Howell Park at this time of the year, I often get asked about specific plants. Culver’s Root is the one most commonly asked about.

Culver’s Root may not be noticed immediately as one approaches the wildflower patch in full bloom. It is a little more subtle than some of the purples and yellows.

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The plant that inspires the most questions is the one with a number of spikes (perhaps suggestive of a candelabra), each spike with many small tubular white flowers (sometimes tinged with pink). It is striking in its own way but, apparently, not so well known.

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The flowers open from the bottom of the spike up. Each flower has a couple brown or orange stamens.

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The common name — Culver’s Root — reflects the medicinal use of the plant (primarily as a laxative). “Culver” was reportedly a physician who promoted its use.

This year the plants seem more common and larger than in previous summers.

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Culver’s Root is native to eastern North America and is one of the many Eliza Howell flowers that attract many bees.

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Before Eliza Howell became my nature study park, I was not familiar with Culver’s Root. Now I am pleased to be able to introduce others to this elegant flower.

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