Blue cohosh, a species of Caulophyllum (family Berberidaceae), also called squaw root or papoose root, is a flowering plant in the Berberidaceae (barberry) family. It is a medium-tall perennial with blue berry-like fruits and bluish-green foliage.
Spreading and bushy when mature, blue cohosh is a large, many-stemmed perennial, 1-3 ft. tall. Thrice-compound leaves with lobed leaflets are purplish in spring. Inconspicuous, purplish-brown to yellow-green flowers in a loosely branched cluster. Clusters of flowers are followed by conspicuous, bright-blue berries.
The six stamens and central pistil of this early spring flower mature at different times, assuring cross-pollination. The petals bear fleshy nectar glands that are visited by early solitary bees. The ovary is eventually ruptured by the developing seeds within it; the seeds are thus exposed, an unusual condition among flowering plants. The seeds have reportedly been used as a coffee substitute, but may also be toxic. The foliage resembles meadow rues (Thalictrum), hence the species name.
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- First Flower: Date the first flowers are fully open. When open, you will see the stamens among the unfolded petals.
- Full Flower: Date when half or more of the flowers are completely open
- First Ripe Fruit: Date when you notice the first fruits becoming fully ripe or seeds dropping naturally from the plant. Ripening is indicated by the berries turning red, yellow, orange, or maroon.
- Full Fruiting: Date when half or more of the fruits are completely ripe or seeds are dropping naturally from the plant.
- All Leaves Withered: Date when most or all of the leaves that developed this season, have lost green color or are dried and dead.
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