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.

Posted by: Erica TenBroek - Roseville
on: 2018-06-26 09:36:05

This plant is found in Roseville parks along with Osmorhiza claytonii. I've wondered if it can hybridize with claytonia and if that is why the stems are variable in appearance. It looks a bit like invasive Japanese hedge parsley when it is first coming up in the spring.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2018-06-29 19:58:43

Erica, most plants have natural variations, such as the amount of hair on a stem or size of leaves. It is not an indication of hybridization.<.p>

Posted by: Linda Quammen - Miesville Ravine Park Reserve
on: 2020-06-12 03:38:32

All along the trail edging the Cannon River are tons of Aniseroot fighting for their place among the jungle of native and invasive plants. They are definitely holding their own, so far.

Posted by: Michelle Larson - Zimmerman
on: 2020-06-13 06:55:09

I found it growing in the front of my house. It smelled so nice I couldnt pull it out. It took me awhile to figure out what it was with the help of a plant identification app. How soon and how could I use the seeds to put it elsewhere in the yard?

Posted by: Cynthia M Tomcko - Cohasset
on: 2021-03-04 16:43:01

I found a very few specimens alongside an old ski trail in the Sugar Hills Ski Area while snowshoeing. Because it is winter, I had to make the ID on the seeds and growth form of the plant alone so had a very difficult time of it!

Posted by: Ronald Johannsen - Trenton Lake, woodlands Freeborn co. Mn.
on: 2023-05-26 16:45:36

Very prolific this Spring, after huge rain event. 5-25-2023

Posted by: John - Houston County
on: 2023-09-03 21:41:32

Do the seeds Germinate in Fall? Or is it better planted in Spring? Also do Osmorhiza claytonii & Osmorhiza longistylis hybridize? I'm asking because my plants are a little intermediate between the 2? Could It just be a different species of Osmorhiza? You did say Sweet Cicely (Osmorhiza claytonii) has a distinct anise fragrance. But does anise root (Osmorhiza longistylis) have a similar scent too?

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2023-09-04 10:00:44

John, we don't know about this species specifically, but as a general rule seeding is best done in fall or over winter, since many native species require cold-moist stratification before they will germinate. We don't know about hybrids.

Posted by: John - Houston County
on: 2023-09-06 13:44:02

Ah so in a nutshell, Sweet Cicley (Osmorhiza spp.) works just like Apples? If I take Sweet Cicely Seeds, put them in Fridge with Plastic bag & moist paper, I can expect them to eventually germinate just like Apples right? Thank you for the vaulable information! It makes that Sweet Cicley Requires cold stratification, because it's seeds ripen in Fall, just in time for Cold Weather. I'm sure the same Cold Stratification applies to both species right? So logically the hybrid would also require Cold Stratification?

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2023-09-07 08:15:43

John, we don't have any experience propagating Osmorhiza so can't say definitively what the requirements are.

Posted by: John - Houston County
on: 2023-09-11 01:10:39

well, Do they at least spread by root? I've transplanted roots of sweet cicely successfully but I was wondering if it would spread just by root. Could the ones I saw in the wild be all clones? Or are they the result of Genuine seed germination?

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2023-09-11 12:53:22

John, Osmorhiza spreads by seed.

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