Monday, November 11, 2013

Fragrant Button Snakeroot - Eryngium aromaticum

Fragrant button snakeroot (Eryngium aromaticum) is a low-growing, somewhat sprawling perennial herb native to well-drained upland habitats throughout peninsular Florida and a few Panhandle counties, as well as parts of Georgia and Alabama.  It is a rather diminutive member of this carrot family genus and for a good part of the year it takes a good eye to spot it.  It can be quite common, however, in the open sunny habitats it favors.
Fragrant button snakeroot rarely stands taller than 6 inches. For much of the year, it occurs as a basal rosette of slightly spiny deeply dissected leaves.  Over time, multiple rosettes form above the carrot-like tap root.  The stems elongate over the spring and summer and can extend several feet in multiple directions.  Flowers are produced in fall.  Multiple, spiny flower heads occur at the ends of each stem. Tiny cornflower blue flowers surround the heads. They attract extremely tiny pollinating insects and eventually form brown "balls" of spiny seeds.
Though snakeroots are members of the carrot family, most are not used as larval food by the Eastern black swallowtail butterfly. Fragrant button snakeroot is one of the exceptions - making it an excellent choice for the butterfly garden. 
Regrettably, this useful wildflower is not currently offered by members of FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries. We have collected seed this year, however, and have hopes of offering it for sale at Hawthorn Hill in Spring 2014.  It needs good drainage, full sun and a bit of space to prosper in the home landscape.  Let me know if you are interested in giving it a try.


  1. I would like to ask whether this plant needs full sun... ish - and can tolerate a little bit of shade, or whether it needs truly full full sun. Thanks again for the blog posts; i would never have known about this eryngium otherwise.

    1. I find this plant often in areas where it is in shade for part of the day. It needs good drainage, but seems to do fine in places where it gets full sun for only half days.


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