Outdoor Gardens Featured Plant: Rattlesnake Master
Avery Pronschinske, Olbrich Horticulturist
Aug 31, 2023
Rattlesnake Master, Eryngium yuccifolium. Its name might sway you to think of gun-slinging cowboys, tumbleweeds, and the wild West. However, it is a true Midwestern native with its roots deeply planted in Wisconsin soil.
Eryngium has many prairie-loving features including a tall stature and a deep taproot, plus the need for full sun and dry to poor soil quality. But, what sets this plant apart from other native prairie plants is its unique flower structure, a bristly light green “cone.”
Flowering with light pink stamens only the most observant garden visitors notice in early summer, by midsummer the blooms mature to light green and attract an abundance of pollinators. These pollinators go on to enjoy the tall hollow stems that act as homes, if left to stand through the fall and winter months. The stems are sturdy and add picturesque winter interest, holding little caps of snow atop each of its bristly blooms.
Come springtime, the pollinators in the Eryngium stems emerge from their slumber, and a light green rosette of strappy green foliage pokes its way out of the ground. If the conditions are just right, spring might also bring with it a surprise of additional seedlings, as the rattlesnake master seeds happily in ideal conditions. The more the merrier for the tall, slender Rattlesnake Master.