About Blue Cohosh: Blue Cohosh flourishes in the rich, moist woodland areas. The name “Cohosh” is derived from the Algonquin term for this plant, which many Native American tribes used for medicinal purposes. Its thick root was considered especially helpful for women, though it has proven extremely dangerous in pregnancy and is no longer commonly used internally. Its bright blue berries make this plant useful for ornamental purposes.
Blue Cohosh Germination: This seed germinates very slowly and irregularly. For best results, pour very hot water over the seeds and soak them overnight; this softens the hard seed coat for faster germination. Next, mix the seeds with moist sand and store it in the refrigerator for 60 days before planting. Plant the seed just below the surface of the soil in fall or spring. The seeds may not germinate for several seasons, since they must experience repeated cycles of warm and cold weather to break their dormancy. This plant prefers rich, moist woodland soil.
Growing Blue Cohosh Seeds: Keep the soil consistently moist, not allowing it to dry out. This plant may not flower until its third or fourth year of growth. Mature plants will slowly spread by rhizomes, eventually forming a group of plants if growing conditions are favorable. This plant resists deer.
Harvesting Blue Cohosh: Blue Cohosh contains chemicals that can be harmful and irritating; the berries are especially toxic. Though this plant has historically been used for medicinal purposes, this practice is no longer regarded as safe because of the plant's toxicity.
Saving Blue Cohosh Seeds: The berries, which contain the seeds, can be harvested at any time after they turn blue; this usually occurs in the fall. Strip the berries from the stalk; keep in mind that they are toxic. Smash the berries or place them in a food processor for a minute, to remove the fleshy part of the berry from the seed; the seeds will be protected by their hard outer coating. Rinse the material to clean and separate the seeds from the pulp. Since fresh seed has the best germination rate, either sow immediately or store in the refrigerator until planting.
Detailed Blue Cohosh Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Papoose Root, Squaw Root Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Early Summer Height: 18-24 inches Spacing: 12-15 feet Light: Full Sun to Part Shade Soil Moisture: Medium USDA Zone: 4a-7b Seeds Per Oz: 100 Produces divided leaflets with rounded lobes, a flat cluster of greenish yellow flowers, and blue berry-like seeds.