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Rattlesnake master: Another odd common name

Making It Grow Radio Minute
SC Public Radio

At the North Carolina Arboretum they often have a quilt garden for pollinators with repeating squares of different flowers. One year they included a plant with a strange common name, rattlesnake master. It had a completely different set of insects visiting its stalked inflorescences with small cluster-like white flowers. The common name comes from the belief that the roots could cure rattlesnake bites, don’t try it! The scientific name Eryngium yuccifolium refers to the slightly yucca-like leaves, not prickly enough to stick you in the behind while weeding and entirely different from the leaves of most members of the carrot family. A feature it does share with most carrot family members is a deep tap root, making it hard to transplant. I’m saving dried flower heads and scattering seeds hoping to increase this unusual native in my garden.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.