Sanicula marilandica (Maryland Black Snakeroot)

Plant Info
Also known as: Maryland Sanicle
Family:Apiaceae (Carrot)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; deciduous woods, mesic forests
Bloom season:June - July
Plant height:1 to 4 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: panicle Cluster type: round

[photo of flowers] Small clusters (umbels) at the ends of branching stems, made up of 2 to 4 small round clusters (umbellets) about ½ inch across and consisting of 20 to 60 flowers each. Flowers are either male or perfect (both male and female parts), with both present in some umbellets and others all male. Flowers are greenish white with 5 petals longer than the sepals, and protruding stamens with greenish white tips that turn brown with age. Perfect flowers are nearly stalkless, have a small ovary covered in hooked bristles, and 2 long spreading styles that are much longer than the bristles. The styles persist and become arching as the flower matures.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: compound Leaf type: palmate

[photo of lower leaves] Leaves are both basal and alternate on the stem, palmately compound with 5 or 7 leaflets, or 5 leaflets with the end pair deeply cleft so looks like 7. Leaflets are up to 6 inches long and to 2 inches wide, coarsely toothed or double-toothed, hairless, wedge-shaped at the base and usually widest above the middle, often with notches or shallow lobes on the tip half.

[photo of upper leaves] Basal and lower stem leaves are long stalked, becoming stalkless or nearly so in the upper plant. Stems are erect, hairless, and branched in the upper plant.

Fruit: Fruit type: barbed Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of fruit] The fruit is dry, round to somewhat oval, about 1/6 inch long and covered in hooked bristles. The long arching style remains at the tip. The fruit splits into 2 seeds.


There are 4 Sanicula species in Minnesota, all with similar "pom-pom" like flower heads and palmately compound leaves. Maryland Black Snakeroot is easily distinguished from the others by its leaves with 5 to 7 leaflets, where the others have 3 or 5 leaflets.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Cedar Creek Natural History Center, Anoka County, Wild River State Park, Chisago County, and Snail Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.


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

Posted by: Melody M - Brook Park
on: 2017-05-16 19:38:29

This plant grew up in the center of my flower bed last year, and I am hoping it comes back this year!

Posted by: Janet N - Lake Bemidji State Park
on: 2017-06-26 06:32:05

Growing along the trail to the bog.

Posted by: Gary - Carlton County
on: 2019-01-29 16:21:36

Frequent in the woods on my property.

Posted by: Eileen - Pine County
on: 2021-06-22 12:59:48

Plentiful in and around the town of Swiss, MN.

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