Osmorhiza claytonii (Hairy Sweet Cicely)

Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913.  An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols.  Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 627. Provided by Kentucky Native Plant Society. Scanned by Omnitek Inc.

Where Commonly Found: Forests, wooded slopes, occasionally in wetlands.

How to Identify:
(For unfamiliar words: Wikipedia Glossary of Botanical Terms).
Go Botany Key for Osmorhiza claytonii.
Minnesota Wildflower’s description of Osmorhiza claytonii.  Click on more images.

Flower Color: White
Flower Type:  Umbels
, flat clusters in groups of 4 to 7 flowers at top of branching stems.  Each flower is about /14″ across with 5 notched petals, 5 white-tipped stamens and 2 styles that are shorter than the petals, hairy bracts spread downward.  See photo on Minnesota Wildflower website, link above.  O. longistylis looks similar but this has more flowers per umbellet, 8 – 16, and the styles are longer than the petals.
Flower Time:  Spring – early Summer.
Leaf Arrangement:  Alternate.
Leaf Type:  Compound, 1 or 2 times compound in 3’s.  Basal and lower stem leaves are long-stalked, becoming shorter to absent stalk up the stem. Leaflets are up to 3″ long and 2″ wide, deeply lobed and shallower lobed up the stem, toothed margins, hairy leaves, especially underside veins and densely long-haired stems and stalks. O. longistylis looks similar but leaves are less deeply divided, stems are hairless and the leaves smell like anise when crushed.
Height:  1.5′ – 2′
Seed Collection:  Dry brown seed, with appressed hairs, .5″ – 1″ long that splits when ripe and persists through winter.

Attracts:  Beneficial insects, food for mammals and birds.
Use:  Woodland garden, shaded rain garden.
Light:  Shade
Hardiness Zone:  3-7 USDA Zone Map
Soils:  Moist to Wet.
Notes:  An excellent option for a woodland or shaded rain garden.
Native to: Native to NE, Mid-Atlantic and Mid-Western US.  Biota of North America Program, North American Plant Atlas. 


Requested by Bronx River Wildflower Corridor, Roseanne Andrade.

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