In late spring and early summer, look for Tassel Rue growing along the banks of mountain streams. I recently spotted it at two of my favorite hiking places along the Blue Ridge Parkway: Rock Castle Creek Gorge and Crabtree Falls.
The small flowers of tassel rue grow in a panicle at the top of each plant. The flowers are about 3/4” wide and lack petals. The white “flower” that you see is simply an explosion of long, white stamens surrounding a superior, green ovary.
Most of the leaves on this perennial are basal, although a few smaller leaves might alternate up the flower stem. Each basal leaf has a long petiole and is palmately divided into 5-11 segments. The leaf margins are toothed (see above).
Tassel Rue leaves can vary in size –up to 12 inches wide or more! The entire plant is 2-4 feet tall at maturity.
Tassel Rue is a member of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). Other members of this group, like Goldenseal, Meadow Rue, and Black Cohosh, have similar flowers.
Other common names for this plant include False Bugbane and Carolina Bugbane (because of its similarity to Cimicifuga (bugbane).
Tassel Rue is considered poisonous because it contains a chemical that causes skin irritation when handled. Use caution!
6 Comments Add yours
I love your work, and appreciate your getting out and about–and sharing your discoveries!
Thanks Jim! Hope you are getting out as well!
Lovely photos! I think I’ve come across this plant before but didn’t know what it was. Thank you for identifying it.
Thank you Gloria. Please keep sharing with us! Your site is beautiful and extremely useful as we wander the Blue Ridge and wonder, “What is that?”
Thanks so much, David! I plan to!
Thank you, Gloria, for describing the Tassel Rue. You mention Goldenseal, Meadow Rue, and Black Cohosh with similar flowering. I have a few Meadow Rue with lavender fuzzy flowers, but its leaves are quite similar to those of the Columbine. I’ll do a little research project on all these.