Sunday, July 31, 2011

Yuccaleaf or Button Eryngo (Eryngium yuccifolium)

It was late one afternoon. We were making our way from the Ogeechee Wildlife Management Area in Hancock County to the Oconee WMA in Greene County, Georgia, when we took a wrong turn. According to the GPS the road was supposed to go through. I’m sure it did at one point. The road should have continued down the hill and across a creek. But it didn’t any longer; it stopped at the top of the hill. This is often the case with rural roads. The bridges become unsafe and, if the road doesn’t carry much traffic, the bridge is closed and the road stops short of its original destination.

Near the end of this road we saw some unusual plants. I’d seen a few back down the highway but they were inaccessible. The light wasn't good but I took these shots.

The plant. This is a relatively young plant.

A closer view of the flower heads.

It didn’t take much research to identify these as Eryngium yuccifolium, known by the common names Button Eryngo, Northern Rattlesnake-master, Button Snakeroot or Yuccaleaf Eryngo. At first glance from a distance, the foliage might be mistaken for an agave or yucca, or even an iris. In bloom, however, this plant is immediately recognizable.

Two weeks later, we saw Eryngium yuccifolium plants again, growing by the roadside in rural Hancock County, Georgia. Unfortunately, these flowers were past their best but the light was better and we took the opportunity to photograph them again.

A mature plant.

A closer view of the plant.

A closer view of a flower head.

The leaves have spines.

Close up view of a flower head and leaf.

Eryngium yuccifolium
is a perennial plant native to the United States and may be found In eastern states. In Georgia, it has been documented in more counties in the coastal plain than in the Piedmont. It has not been documented formally in Hancock or Greene counties.

Click on an image to view a larger image

- United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database: Eryngium yuccifolium var. yuccifolium (Button Eryngo)

- North Carolina herbarium: Eryngium yuccifolium var. yuccifolium

Identification resources:

- Southeastern Flora: Eryngium yuccifolium (Yuccaleaf Eryngo)

- Missouri Plants: Eryngium yuccifolium

- Natural and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Eryngium yuccifolium (Northern Rattlesnake-master, Button Snakeroot)

Related posts:

- 2010: Year Of The Wildflower – Wildflower Index


Jim Bess said...


I found your pictures online. Can you provide any more exact locality info for your Greene and Hancock County records for Eryngium yuccifolium? I'm doing surveys for a bug that feeds on it and am now putting together list of potential survey sites.


JSK said...


It's many years ago, but I think these photos may have been taken on Trimble Bridge Road. The road isn't a through road. We turned off Farmington Road (paste these coordinates into google maps... 33.666135, -83.346752 to see the turnoff. We traveled up the road, possibly a mile or less; the plants were on the south side of the road.