Blue cohosh is an impressive plant, easy to recognize in early spring by the strikingly beautiful purple, almost back shoots. The foliage will change later to green and resemble the meadow rue (Thalictrum), hence the epithet ‘thalictroides’. Also the stem and leaves are covered with a bluish film early in the summer. The small purplish or yellowish green flowers would not qualify for a beauty contest but not the same goes for the unusually blue seeds adorning the stems in the fall. It is very resistant to deer browsing and it can form a very effective groundcover in deep shade.
Germination: seeds need to be kept moist at all times. It can be sown in the fall outdoors or allowed a warm/moist followed by cold/moist stratification and sowed in the spring. A few seeds have been found emerging the radicles in late April with the raise of the temperature, but they have been exceptions. Cross-sections through seeds revealed fully developed embryos by the second year and probably one more cold period is needed for breaking the radicle dormancy.
Medicinal uses: Blue cohosh was used medicinally (powder rhizomes) by various Native American tribes, mainly to promote childbirth (‘squawroot’) but also for: anxiety, rheumatism, stomach cramps and genito-urinary dysfunctions. It is still used in modern herbal medicine, under medical attention, as a natural labor-inducing stimulant.