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Audubon® Rattlesnake Master
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An architectural Spirit for sunny spaces! With its slim, smooth foliage and tall stems topped with prickly white flowerheads, Rattlesnake Master makes a striking picture. But this prairie native is more than just eye candy—it’s a pollinator powerhouse! When the flowers open in midsummer, they are mobbed by bees and beneficial wasps, not to mention butterflies. Monarchs, swallowtails, viceroys, buckeyes, painted ladies, hairstreaks, and skippers are some of the many butterflies that may come to sample the sweet nectar. In fall, songbirds arrive to pick the seeds from the spiky seedheads.
May Benefit & Attract: cardinals & grosbeaks, wrens, sparrows, thrushes, orioles, finches, mockingbirds & thrashers, vireos
Take Birds Under Your Wing
New! Introducing our bird-friendly collection of Audubon® Native Plants & Trees
- Better for Birds, 100% Neonic-Free
- Not Available in non-native regions, states or counties (see Native Regions map)
Bower & Branch is proud to grow Audubon® Native Plants for Birds in partnership with the National Audubon Society to help birds and other wildlife thrive.
- The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow
- This bird-friendly native plant provides food and shelter for local and migrating birds and other wildlife
- Your purchase and planting of this native flora directly supports Audubon’s conservation mission and impact
- Learn how you can help birds in your home and community through Audubon’s Plants for Birds program
- Audubon Native Plants & Trees are free of neonicotinoids and exclusively grown by Bower & Branch
Audubon® is a licensed and registered trademark of the National Audubon Society. All rights reserved.
- Hardiness Zone: 3-8
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Why the strange name? Ancient Native Americans believed that Rattlesnake Master could be used as a cure or preventative for rattlesnake bites. Hopefully, not too many people subscribed to this notion, because there isn’t any truth in it! A more practical use for the plant by early Americans was as footwear. Its tough but flexible foliage was woven into shoes and sandals. In fact, 8,000-year-old Rattlesnake Master shoes were once found in a Missouri cave, preserved in the cool, dry conditions. Rattlesnake Master is a denizen of prairies and open woods across the Midwest and Southeast.
Rattlesnake Master is host to an interesting little moth called the Rattlesnake Master borer. This insect is endangered in some states due to the disappearance of its sole food source. Cases like this illustrate how important it is for us to plant a diversity of native plants in our gardens. Some insects are very specific in their requirements, and populations can be threatened or even wiped out completely when they can’t find what they need.
How to Grow
Full sun and well-drained soils are key when growing Rattlesnake Master. In rich, moist soils or shady sites, the tall stems have a tendency to flop. You’ll want to water regularly during the establishment period, then ease up. Once it has a chance to put down its sizable taproot (it is in the carrot family, after all), it will be quite drought tolerant. Because of that taproot, Rattlesnake Master is not easy to move after it’s been in the ground for a while. Choose your site carefully. Plants may self-sow if you let them go to seed.
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