Osmorhiza longistylis (Aniseroot)

Plant Info
Also known as: Long-style Sweetroot, Smoother Sweet Cicely
Family:Apiaceae (Carrot)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; moist woods
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:2 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: flat

[photo of flowers] Flowers are in flat clusters (umbels) 2 to 3 inches across at the top of the plant and the ends of branching stems. A cluster is made up of about 5 groups (umbellets) of 8 to 16 flowers each. Flowers are 1/8 inch across, with 5 white notched petals, 5 white-tipped stamens, and 2 white styles that are longer than the petals. At the base of each umbellet are several narrow, spreading, hairy bracts.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaves] Leaves are 1 or 2 times compound in 3's. Basal and lower stem leaves are long stalked, becoming short stalked to stalkless as they ascend the stem. At the base of the stalk is a short appendage that sheathes the stem. Leaflets are up to 4 inches long and 2 inches wide, shallowly to deeply lobed with toothed edges, becoming smaller and less lobed as they ascend the stem. Surfaces are smooth to sparsely hairy, especially along the veins on the underside.

[photo of hairy stem] Stems and stalks are smooth or variously covered in short hairs, sometimes smooth towards the base and hairy in the upper plant. Crushed leaves have a distinct anise scent.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is a narrow seed about an inch long that is arced slightly, slightly swollen at the tip half, and covered in appressed hairs. The remains of the 2 styles persist for a while then disintegrate.


Aniseroot is very similar to Sweet Cicely (Osmorhiza claytonii) and the 2 are easily confused. Sweet Cicely has styles that are shorter than the petals, fewer flowers per umbellet (4 to 7), stems densely covered in long, spreading hairs up into the flower clusters, and the crushed foliage does not have a distinct anise fragrance. The hairy stems are the most noticeable difference.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Kristin
on: 2009-07-07 18:35:17

This is growing wild in my backyard in Apple Valley. I dug it up to move it to another section of the yard and found it has a wonderful licorice smell to the roots (hence the name?) It is really a very petite, pretty flower and much enjoyed in our yard.

Posted by: Barbara C - New Brighton
on: 2017-05-26 19:17:54

We discovered the Aniseroot just this week.It is is our garden near Snakeroot plants. We hadn't noticed the Aniseroot other years. The flowers are very dainty. And it seeems to tolerate being nrar a grove of Black Walnut trees.

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