Blue Cohosh

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Blue Cohosh (Caulophylum thalictroides) is the common name for a plant in the  Berberidaceae (barberry) plant family. It is not the same plant as Black Cohosh (Actaea racemose) which is in the Ranunculaceae family.  When the single leaf with three lobes, serrated at the tip mature,  they turn a bluish- green color and the dark berries are deep blue. The plant is called various names, including Blue Ginseng, since, like ginseng, it grows on the floor of hardwood forests and prefers hilly, moist, rich soil and shady locations, and has a similar growth pattern to Ginseng, with a single smooth 1-3 foot stalk that grows from an underground rhizome.  It is found in the eastern part of the US and other forest locations. The common name, “Cohosh”, may be traced to an Algonquin word that means rough, since that describes how the rhizomes, or roots appear*. The roasted seeds are edible and have been used as a source of food*. Other names for this plant include Squaw Root and Papoose Root which relate to historic use* among indigenous and first nations people.