bugbane, any plant of the genus Cimicifuga, tall north-temperate perennials of the family Ranunculaceae (buttercup family). The white spirelike bloom has a rank odor that attracts flies, which pollinate the plant. Common in woodlands of E North America is C. racemosa, black snakeroot, or black cohosh, whose root is used commercially as an herbal remedy for conditions associated with menopause. (The most rigorous study of its use to treat menopause, however, reported in 2006 that it was not any more effective than a placebo.) Other plants are also called bugbane and snakeroot; most plants called cohosh belong to the related baneberry genus. Bugbane is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Ranunculales, family Ranunculaceae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.