Herb: Bunchflower

Latin name: Melanthium virginicum

Family: Melanthiaceae

Medicinal use of Bunchflower:

The root has been used to kill internal parasites.

Description of the plant:


170 cm
(5 1/2 foot)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Lowland prairies and moist open woods.

Propagation of Bunchflower:

Unless the seed is stored in damp sand at around 4C it has a short viability. Where possible it is best to sow the seed in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Stored seed needs to be cold stratified but can be very slow to germinate. Germination can be erratic even for seed sown when it was fresh, it usually takes place within 3 - 12 months at 15C but can be much longer. Sow the seed thinly so that it can be grown on in the pot without disturbance for the first couple of years. Give an occasional liquid feed in the growing season to ensure the plants do not become nutrient deficient. The plant produces just one seed leaf in its first year, this forms an over-wintering bulb. At the end of the second year's growth, pot up the over-wintering bulbs, placing one or two bulbs in each pot. Grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame for at least another couple of years before planting them out into their permanent positions. It takes up to 10 years for the plant to reach maturity. Division in March/April or in October. Establish the plants in pots in a shaded frame before planting them out. Root cuttings, 6mm long with a bud, rooted in a sandy soil in a cold frame.

Cultivation of the herb:

Lowland prairies and moist open woods.

Known hazards of Melanthium virginicum:

All parts of the plant are highly toxic.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.