Culver's-root is a popular garden plant and available in many native plant nurseries in the Northeast. Its large size and showy spikes of white flowers and whorled leaves are a beautiful addition to an early-summer perennial garden, especially if you want to help feed the bees and bumblebees. There are a number of cultivars available now. The common name comes from a mysterious Dr. Culver (or Coulvert), an early pioneer physician who used it in his practice since it had many medicinal uses, beginning with Native Americans (Wikipedia contributors).
There are 16 verified occurrences. There are about 40 historical occurrences.
The short term trend is unknown, given that known populations have only been surveyed once.
The long term trend indicates a somewhat significant decline as the known populations have declined to 16 from the 40 historically documented. Additional survey efforts are needed is determine the overall trend for this species.
The known populations are threatened by increased mowing, along with habitat alteration and loss due to incompatible management or corridor, including driveway, improvements. The collection for medicinal uses may also threaten this plant. Other potential threats include loss of habitat through competition with invasive plant species and the loss of local native genotypes thorough interbreeding with cultivated varieties or non-local ecotypes.
Time mowing and other compatible habitat management efforts to occur during the growing season but outside the period of flowering and fruiting. Avoid the application of herbicides and repeated mowing during the growing season. Monitor populations for impacts from deer browse, habitat loss to competition from invasive species. and loss of habitat suitability due to excessive shading. Protect the populations from direct disturbance from trail expansion or development.
Additional survey work is needed both to locate new populations and at the historical records with specific locational information, to determine if those populations remain extant. Clear and consistent estimates of population size at extant populations is needed to help determine the trend of this species.
In New York the few known sites for Veronicastrum virginicum are forest edges, including along bike trails and driveways. It has been found on north or northwest-facing slopes as well as along the bottomlands of major rivers (New York Natural Heritage Program 2010). Prairie remants, fens, and meadows; river banks; deciduous woodlands (especially with oaks); and adjacent roadsides (Voss 1996). Moist and dry upland woods and prairies (Gleason and Cronquist 1991).
Populations are scattered throughout New York, south of the Adirondacks.
Culver's root is found from southeastern Manitoba and southwestern Ontario to Maine, south to Florida and Texas. It is known only from historical records in Louisiana, and North Dakota and the Maine populations are the result of introductions.
Culver's-root is a large, showy, herbaceous perennial. Plants have erect, unbranched stems reaching 80 cm to 2 m in height. Each stem has many whorls of 3 to 7 narrow, lanceolate, to lance-ovate, somewhat stiff, finely serrate leaves that are typically hairy on their underside. The inflorescence is a showy, branched, terminal raceme 6 to 15 cm long and densely packed with small (7 - 9 mm long) tube-like white or pink flowers with two exerted stamens.
Culver's root is most easily found when in flower, though fruiting and possibly even sterile specimens may also be identified. Flowering typically occurs from early July through late August.
When in flower or fruit Culver's root does not closely resemble any other plant species due to its unique combination of unbranched upright stems, height, slender spike-like racemes resembling an extended candelabra, and numerous sets of narrowly whorled leaves.
Veronicastrum typically flowers in late summer, and the fruits are present from late August into October.
The time of year you would expect to find Culver's Root flowering and fruiting in New York.
Veronicastrum virginicum (L.) Farw.
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Information for this guide was last updated on: January 6, 2016
Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2019. Online Conservation Guide for Veronicastrum virginicum. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/culvers-root/. Accessed November 18, 2019.