In accordance with Western Carolina University’s policies in response to Covid-19, Highlands Biological Station is currently closed to the public with the exception of the Botanical Garden trails, but does remain open to researchers and faculty on a limited basis; please contact the HBS office (828-526-2602) for information on reservations, rates, and Covid-19 policies.  We currently plan to offer our field courses, workshops, Grant-in-Aid program, and HBS Nature Center programs in summer 2021, with Covid-19 safety protocols in place (TBA).​ Please bear in mind, however, that University policy and HBS program plans are subject to change in light of developments with the pandemic this winter and spring, and those interested in attending HBS courses or programs or utilizing HBS facilities in spring or summer 2021 should check the HBS website regularly for updates.

Eryngium yuccifolium

Rattlesnake master


Carrot Family

A plant with striking architecture and an equally interesting common name, in this case, Rattlesnake master falls into both. This herbaceous perennial enjoys full sun and is one of the more ubiquitous Eryngium species. The leaves are thin with rough margins which resemble that of another plant, Yucca sp. which resulted in the botanical epithet yuccifolium. The range for this particular species stretches throughout the Eastern US and into the Midwest.

The Meskwaki Nation of Indigenous Americans were one of the first groups to introduce alternative uses for Erygium yuccifolium. It is said that it’s roots and sap were used to prevent rattlesnake bites and the flowers were used in ceremonies.

The set of pollinators for this species are abundant. Contrary to most plants in the carrot family (Apiaceae), Rattlesnake master has spherical flower heads which are attractive to a variety of bees, beetles, and other insects.