[The Bugbanes of the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon and Washington]

Tall Bugbane

Cimicifuga elata

Synonyms: Actaea elata, Cimicifuga elata var. alpestris, Cimicifuga elata var. elata

Inflorescence of

Tall bugbane from Ainsworth State Park, Columbia Gorge Scenic Area.....June 1990.

Tall bugbane from along the Columbia Gorge Highway, east of Multnomah Falls.....June 1990.

Tall bugbane is a tall wildflower with branched and leafy stems arising from 100-200 cm high. The stem is not hollow as is found in Cimicifuga laciniata and the herbage is finely pubescent and somewhat glandular on the upper stems. The leaves are compound pinnate, the leaflets of a ovate to heart-shape. The margins are 3-lobed with coarse teeth along the margins.

The inflorescence is a short to elongate raceme or panicle of many closely spaced, tiny white flowers. The flowers lack petals while the 4-5 sepals are white or pink and 3-4 mm long.


Tall bugbane lives in moist, shady lowland forests, mainly west of the Cascades. Its range is from the Olympic Peninsula south to northwestern Oregon.


Tall bugbane may be found from the Olympic Peninsula south (to the west of the Cascade crest) to northwestern Oregon.

In the Columbia River Gorge it may be found between the elevations of 100'-1000' from near Crown Point east to near Ainsworth State Park.

Inflorescence of Tall Bugbane: Cimicifuga elata (Synonyms: Actaea elata, Cimicifuga elata var. alpestris, Cimicifuga elata var. elata)

Tall bugbane from the Columbia River Gorge.....June 16, 1990.

Paul Slichter