What is a Rattlesnake Master?

This is Eryngium yuccafolium or Rattlesnake Master.  It is a member of the Apiaceae or Carrot family.  It is blooming right now in the Tucker Mini-Prairie.  It’s a native Missouri plant usually found growing in tall grass prairies.  Early European pioneers erroneously thought that the roots of this plant could be used as an antidote to rattlesnake venom, hence the common name.  The silver gray leaves of this plant are yucca-like in appearance.  Rattlesnake Master’s head-like inflorescence attracts many types of pollinators, such as bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, moths, & beetles.  The rare caterpillar, Papaipema eryngii (Rattlesnake Master Borer Moth) bores into the stems of this plant in order to feed on the pithy interior.  There are three of these plants found on the Tucker Mini-Prairie.

See if you can find them!

Image of a flower head with spines

Eryngium yuccafolium