Adoxa moschatellina (Moschatel)

Plant Info
Also known as: Musk-root
Family:Adoxaceae (Moschatel)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; moist rich hardwood forest
Bloom season:April - May
Plant height:2 to 6 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FAC NCNE: FAC
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: 4-petals Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: round

[photo of flowers] Small yellowish-green flowers borne in a cube-shaped cluster at the end of a slender green stalk, erect or hanging in a noticeable arch, usually 5 flowers per cluster but may have more or less. Flowers are ¼ to 1/3 inch across, typically 4 flowers arranged on 4 sides of the stalk with 1 flower facing up on the top. Lateral flowers typically have 5 oval-round petals, fused at the base, the terminal flower with 4. A flower has the same number of pale-tipped stamens as petals (4 or 5), split to look like twice that number (8 or 10), surrounding a split green style in the center.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: compound Leaf type: lobed

[photo of leaves] Primary leaves are light green and basal with a long slender stalk before they split into 3 smaller stalked leaves that split again into 3 more leaflets, the center one also stalked. The leaflets are oval, the central one up to 1¼ inches long and 1 inch wide, shallow or deeply deeply lobed with smooth or toothed edges and rounded or pointed tips on the lobes. The flowering stalk has a pair of opposite, short-stalked, 3-parted leaves at about the midpoint of the stem.


Moschatel is a delicate, unassuming species of mesic hardwood forests and found both in Minnesota's southeastern and northeastern counties. According to the DNR, Moschatel was listed as a species of Special Concern in 1984 when its known populations were few, but in the big 2013 shake-up of MN rare species, was de-listed since biological surveys found it is more abundant in Minnesota than previously thought. It is, however, still considered rare throughout much of its range. Our populations may still be at risk due to degradation of forest habitats by invasive species such as buckthorn, garlic mustard, and Japanese barberry, and from pressures by the timber industry.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in the Belle Creek Valley in Goodhue County.


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

Posted by: Judy - in Bardon's Peak area and Jay Cooke Area
on: 2014-12-21 13:57:51

just reporting in that I have found it in these locations and this fall I am fairly certain that i found it in lake county along the SHT.

Posted by: Gabriel - Fridley
on: 2016-04-24 19:50:37

This species was introduced at Gardens of Rice Creek in Fridley, where it has become invasive. By invasive, I mean it forms thick carpets in spring. I think this only happens because of irrigation. Normally the plant would go dormant in late spring, but here it keeps growing and sending out stolons to form new tubers well into June. I expect the requirement of moisture (and perhaps also of humus-rich soil) is the reason why the species is pretty rare. Usually soil dries out in June or even in May, which would stunt the growth of or kill this species.

Posted by: Judith - Bloomington
on: 2016-08-30 14:45:54

I have been observant of MN wildflowers for many years. I may not always remember the name but I do know when I have seen something for the first year. I found this plant growing at 9-mile Creek in Bloomington. It was walking the trails and found it on the side of a hill just a short distance from 106th St. I have a few photos should you like to verify this. Judie

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2016-09-01 11:56:41

Judie, what you discovered at 9-mile Creek was Allium tricoccum, wild leek. The images you sent showed the flowers are on a leafless stem and each flower is on a separate stalk, not arranged in the boxy cluster like Adoxa is. Leeks are a nice find, nonetheless.

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