One flower stalk can have between ten and forty flowerheads, with each flowerhead averaging 106 individual flowers. Flowerheads are dense, ball-shaped, about 1 inch wide, and subtended by bracts. Individual flowers are tiny, greenish white, each with its own minute bract.
Seed is dark brown, 3-sided, just under 1/8 inch long, the layered remains of the floral bracts attached at the top on 2 sides with the third side smooth and flat.
Leaves yucca- or agave-like, the lower ones to 3 feet long, much shorter along the stems, bluish, linear, parallel veined, with small spines along the margins.
Occurs in upland prairies, glades, savannas, and rocky openings of moist to dry upland forests.
Rattlesnake master gets its common name from the erroneous belief that the roots of this plant could be used to cure rattlesnake bites.
In the prairie or in the garden, rattlesnake master is a favorite of native insects. Monarch butterflies, skippers, and other butterflies visit the flower heads for nectar. Soldier beetles visit the flowers to eat pollen; major pollinators include a diversity of bees, wasps, and flies.
**** A single plant can produce between 1,060 and 4,240 individual flowers! Investigate the orchard’s pollinator garden and count the number of Rattlesnake master plants that you can observe.