Sewanee Herbarium » Project Center » Medicinal Plants » Blue Cohosh

Caulophyllum thalictroides Blue Cohosh
Berberidaceae (Barberry Family)

Other Names: Papoose root, Blue ginseng, Squawroot, Blueberry cohosh

Description: Perennial 1-2 ft. Smooth stemmed, stem and leaves have a bluish tint. Leaves divided into 3 (occasionally 5) lobes. Flowers greenish-yellow, in terminal clusters before leaves expand. Blue fruits in the late summer or early fall.

Where Found: Moist, rich woods. NB to SC, ND to ME.

Status: Native

Medicinal Part: Root

Preparation: Tea

Uses: American Indians used root tea to aid labor, treat profuse menstruation, abdominal cramps, and urinary tract infections. A folk remedy for rheumatism, cramps, epilepsy, and inflammation of the uterus. Said to induce menstruation, hasten childbirth, and increase perspiration.

Constituents and Effects: Roots possess estrogenic activity and check muscle spasms. Extracts have been shown to be anti-inflammatory in rats. Methylcytisine: has effects similar to nicotine; increase blood pressure, stimulating the small intestine, and causing glycemia. Glycosides: Believed to be responsible for its uterine stimulant activity and constriction of coronary blood vessels.