Trautvetteria caroliniensis

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: false bugbane 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Ranunculaceae
Native Range: Northeastern United States
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Tolerate: Heavy Shade, Erosion, Wet Soil


Best grown in moist to wet, organically rich, fertile, humusy, well-drained soils in part shade. Tolerates full shade, but prefers sun-dappled part shade. Do not allow soils to dry out. Spreads by rhizomes and self-seeding to form colonies in optimum growing conditions. Propagate by division in spring or seed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Trautvetteria caroliniensis, commonly known as false bugbane, is a stout, branched, rhizomatous perennial of the buttercup family that typically grows to 2-4’ tall. It is native primarily to moist mountain woods, ravines, and streambanks in the eastern U. S. from Pennsylvania south to Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia, with a few isolated populations present in some prairie areas of Indiana (perhaps now extirpated) and Illinois. In Missouri, populations are limited to several moist shaded crevices of north-facing limestone bluffs in Shannon County along the Jack’s Fork and Current Rivers (Steyermark). Leaves are deeply and palmately divided into 5-11 sharply toothed lobes. Long-petiolate basal leaves are 6” wide at flowering increasing to 8” wide at fruiting. Much smaller sessile to short-petiolate stem leaves usually have fewer lobes than the basal leaves. Corymbiform clusters of apetalous white flowers (individual flowers to 3/4” wide) bloom in summer (June-August) atop branching stems rising well above the basal leaves. Each flower has 3-5 petal-like sepals which drop early (as the flower opens) leaving a tassel of stamens having showy white filaments and yellow anthers. Flowers are fragrant. Flowers are followed by single-seeded utricles.

Some authorities currently consider this species to include plants native to (a) western North America (those formerly listed as Trautvetteria grandis or Trautvetteria caroliniensis var. borealis) and (b) Asia (those formerly listed as Trautvetteria japonica or Trautvetteria caroliniensis var. japonica.

This buttercup family member contains the compound protoanemonin which often irritates human skin (redness and blistering).

Genus name honors Ernst Rudolf von Trautvetter (1809-1889), Russian botanist and former director of the Botanical Garden in St. Petersburg.

Specific epithet refers to the plant in part being native to North Carolina and South Carolina.

Common name of false bugbane is in reference to the similarity of this plant to bugbane (Cimicifuga elata).


No serious insect or disease problems.


Borders, woodland gardens, shade gardens, native plant gardens, pond margins, moist low spots and naturalized areas.