This woodland member of the aster family grows to 18"-36" tall and produces foamy white 2"-6" flowerheads, often fragrant, in late fall. Prefers partial shade and soil of medium to slightly dry conditions. White Snakeroot attracts pollinators that include butterflies, moths, and native bees and is a host plant to a number of moth caterpillars.
This species secretes the poison tremetol. Milk or meat from cows that eat white snakeroot can cause milk-sickness, a onetime fairly common illness among 19th-century farmers in Washtenaw County and the region in general. Milk-sickness is said to be the possible cause of the 1818 death of Nancy Hanks Lincoln, mother of Abraham Lincoln.