What Is Culver’s Root?
Culver’s root (or cusser’s root) is a common ornamental plant native to North America. It grows up to 8 feet tall and wide with leaves that are smooth, waxy green or purple. Its flowers are white, trumpet shaped, 1/4 inch long and have five petals each. They bloom from late summer through early fall and last until frost.
The plant produces seeds that are small, round and yellowish brown. These seeds germinate within 24 hours after being exposed to light.
Seeds need moist soil but do not require water for their survival. After germination they will begin to grow within 2 weeks. Once established, the plants produce two crops per year: one in spring and another in autumn.
How To Grow Culver’s Root Flowering Plants From Seed
There are several ways to grow cussers roots from seed. You can buy them at garden centers or online.
If you want to save money, then buying seeds is the best option since it costs less than purchasing plants. There are many different varieties of cussers root available so finding the right variety may take some time.
Another way to grow cussers root plants is by division. Culver’s root can reproduce through division of its existing rhizomes, which are thick horizontal roots that grow at or just below the soil’s surface.
Division is done by digging up clusters of rhizomes, trimming off any leaves and roots, and replanting them in new locations. This process is best done in late spring or early summer.
The third and final way to grow cussers root plants is from stem or leaf cuttings. Culver’s root can also be propagated a third way, through stem or leaf cuttings.
Culver’s root stem and leaf cuttings are easy to do and require no specialist equipment like most other plants. All you need is a sharp knife, water, and patience. Culver’s root stem and leaf cuttings are best taken from young plants that are between 6 to 9 months old.
Here’s how to do it:
Use a sharp knife or scissors to carefully remove an 8 to 12-inch cutting from the stem of a healthy, young plant. The cutting should include an eye, which is a small bump from which a new shoot will grow.
Place the cutting into a glass of water until you’re ready to plant it. This will keep it fresh and hydrated.
Fill a pot with potting soil that does not contain fertilizer or pesticide.
Push the cutting gently into the soil until just the eye is showing. The cutting should be buried just up to the bottom set of leaves.
Gently water the soil until the soil is evenly moist but not soggy.
Place the pot in a warm location that receives full sun, but not all day. The leaves should turn from green to yellowish as the cutting establishes itself.
Most cussers root cuttings will take 6 to 12 weeks to establish themselves and begin growing new leaves and shoots. Once this happens you can transplant it into a larger container or into your garden bed.
Cussers root cuttings do not require any special fertilizer, just water and sunlight, and they will flourish.
Harvesting Culver’s Root
You can harvest your cussers root anytime after the plant flowers in the fall. The entire plant can be harvested and dried for later use.
Cut the plant at ground level and clean off the soil. Spread the roots on a table or hang them up to dry out of direct sunlight inside a ventilated room. Once the roots are dry, chop them up into smaller pieces and put them into a container. Add dried leaves or flowers to help repel insects.
Culver’s root can be ground up into powder form and stored in an airtight canister. Culver’s root works as an insect repellent by releasing an odor that insects find unappealing.
Only a few grains of this powder are needed to keep away even the toughest of pests. Culver’s root can also be dried and smoked like tobacco. It has a peppery taste that is best enjoyed after a meal or when smoking another herb, such as marijuana or hops.
Culver’s root can also be made into a tea and is said to have several health benefits. Culver’s root tea is typically made by pouring a cup of boiling water over a teaspoon of dried cusser’s root and letting it steep for five to seven minutes before straining out the plant matter.
Culver’s root tea can soothe an upset stomach, ease sore muscles, and help with nasal congestion when feeling under the weather.
Cautions and Side Effects of Culver’s Root
Culver’s root is not known to cause any serious side effects in any people, however, some individuals may experience allergic reactions to the plant. If you know you are allergic to ragweed, a member of the daisy or composite family, or any other plants in this family that include chrysanthemums, avoid cusser’s root.
It is also recommended that pregnant women avoid taking cusser’s root tea or any other herbal tea that has not been approved by their physician. As with any new medication or supplement, it is best to consult your doctor before trying it the first time.
It is always best to gather your own herbs because some herbs sold in stores are irradiated which can kill off the beneficial effects of the herbs and possibly harmful. If you do not know if the herbs you gather have been irradiated, it is best to not take the chance.
Also remember that herbs can be toxic and cause serious effects including death, always use common sense and do not over consume any herb.
Giving Culver’s Root Tea to Children
Culver’s root tea is safe for children when given in small quantities. It can help soothe an upset stomach when consumed in small amounts.
This is one of the reasons why it makes a good children’s tea to sip on in the morning before school.
Culver’s root tea can also be used as a mild herbal shampoo for your kids if they have itchy or dry scalps. It is important that they do not use it every day because it can dry out the hair and skin if overused.
Culver’s root is a versatile plant that can be used for a variety of purposes from culinary to health and beauty. Culver’s root tea has a pleasant flavor that most people enjoy and it is beneficial to have on hand during the cold winter months.
If you are interested in learning more about foraging, consider reading our article on the top 10 easy to find wild edibles.
Return from Culver’s Root Tea to Herbal Tea Benefits
Return from Culver’s Root Tea to Healing Herbs Homepage
Sources & references used in this article:
Propagation Protocol For Culver’s Root Veronicastrum virginicum by J Sullivan, J Kujawski – Native Plants Journal, 2010 – npj.uwpress.org
Herbal/Medical Contraindications by M Moore – Bisbee, AZ: Southwest School Medicine, 1995 – losolivos-obgyn.com
Birdseed mixture and method for propagating native wild flowers by SW Erickson – US Patent 6,418,867, 2002 – Google Patents
What Do You Do With A Nuclear Accelerator Ring? Thirty Years of Prairie Restoration at Fermilab–Batavia Illinois by S McDonough – 2001 – conservancy.umn.edu
Wild Flowers by RB Gordon – 1931 – kb.osu.edu
Unmowed Roughs Save Money and Time by T Voigt – archive.lib.msu.edu
Roadside plants and flowers: a traveler’s guide to the Midwest and Great Lakes area: with a few familiar off-road wildflowers by MS Edsall – 1985 – books.google.com
Growth Performance of Six Plant Species and Removal of Heavy Metal Pollutants (Cu, Cr, Pb and Zn) in a Field-Scale Bi-Phasic Rain Garden by H Durand – 1923 – GP Putnam’s sons