Agrimonia gryposepala (Tall Hairy Agrimony)

Plant Info
Also known as: Tall Agrimony, Common Agrimony, Tall Hairy Groovebur
Family:Rosaceae (Rose)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade; moist to dry soil; open woods, woodland edges, thickets, fields, banks, swamps
Bloom season:June - September
Plant height:1 to 5 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: raceme Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowers] Elongating spike-like racemes at the top of the stem and arising from upper leaf axils. Flowers are ¼ to about 1/3 inch across with 5 oval yellow petals and 5 to 10 yellow stamens, the tips yellow to orange. Alternating with the petals are 5 green sepals that are pointed at the tip, sparsely hairy and slightly shorter than the petals.

[photo of flower hypanthium] Surrounding the base is a calyx-like structure known as a hypanthium, narrowed to a stalk-like base, with 4 or 5 rows of hooked bristles in a ring around the tip and a leaf-like bract at the base. Flowers are ascending to spreading at flowering time, mostly alternate and often widely spaced, especially on the lower part of the cluster. Stalks, sepals, bracts and the hypanthium are all densely covered in short glandular hairs with a few sparse, long, non-glandular hairs.

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

[photo of leaf] Leaves are compound with 3 to 9 major leaflets (5 to 7 on mid-stem), and 1 to 4 pairs of small leaflets in between the larger ones. The end leaflet is largest, 1 to 4 inches long, ½ to 2 inches wide, becoming smaller towards the base of the compound leaf. Leaflets are elliptic to somewhat diamond-shaped, mostly widest near or above the middle, coarsely toothed with blunt to pointed teeth.

[scan of stipule] At the base of the leaf stalk is a pair of leafy appendages (stipules), those on mid-stem each broadly ½ heart to egg-shaped in outline, up to ¾ inch wide, and coarsely toothed around the edge. The upper surface of leaflets and stipules is hairless or nearly so, the lower densely covered in short, glandular hairs with sparse, long, non-glandular hairs mostly along the veins, and a fine fringe of hairs along the edges.

[photo of glands and hairs on upper stem] Stems are stout, mostly erect, branched, and densely covered in short, glandular hairs mixed with long, spreading, non-glandular hairs, the non-glandular hairs denser on the lower stem and more sparse in the flower clusters.

Fruit: Fruit type: barbed Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] The hypanthium becomes nodding and enlarges to about ¼ inch long at maturity, the base usually bowl to bell-shaped, with 10 grooves. The surface is densely covered in short, glandular hairs with sparse long, non-glandular hairs near the base and sometimes on the ridges between the grooves, but not in the grooves. The sepals persist and become erect, forming a beak at the tip. The rows of hooked bristles spread out, the top row becoming erect and the lowest row distinctly bent downward (reflexed). Inside are 1 or 2 seeds.


There are 3 Agrimony species in Minnesota, all of which have similar leaves, flowers and fruit. Tall Hairy Agrimony is probably the easiest to recognize from the dense covering of short, glandular hairs mixed with sparse long, spreading non-glandular hairs on both stems and leaf undersides. On mature fruit, the bottom row of bristles is distinctly reflexed and there are scattered long, non-glandular hairs near the base of the hypanthium and sometimes on the ridges, but none in the grooves. The glandular hairs can be seen with the naked eye but a hand lens is helpful. By comparison, the other 2 Agrimonia species have a mix of long and short non-glandular hairs on stems, have more densely hairy leaves especially on major veins, their hypanthiums are hairy in the grooves and the lowest row of bristles is sometimes slightly reflexed but usually not. While many references note differences in the hypanthium shape of the 3 species, this is often a really subtle distinction so we tend to ignore it.

Even though this species is the most easily recognized Agrimonia in Minnesota, there is still plenty of confusion and the MN distribution map should be taken with a grain of salt. The DNR's MNTaxa distribution does not include more than half the counties which have herbarium records for A. gryposepala. Coincidentally(?), they list a number of these same counties for A. striata, but there are no corresponding herbarium records. We can't know for certain what's what without reviewing the actual specimens, but some are likely mis-IDs. So look for the glandular hairs on the stems to separate these two.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka in Carlton and Ramsey counties. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Cass County and his backyard garden in Ramsey County.


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

Posted by: Jill - Itasca County
on: 2013-07-15 08:01:23

We've seen patches of plants similar to these in a logged area but the flower heads are more densely packed. I don't know if it's just a variation or another species.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2013-07-17 19:43:29

Jill, there are 3 Agrimonia species in Minnesota and all are similar, but I don't think how densely arranged the flowers are is an identifying trait. We are studying the genus more closely and hope to have them straightened out soon.

Posted by: Linda - Lebanon Hills Park, Eagan
on: 2015-08-29 00:47:53

Yes, agrimony is in several places in Lebanon Hills. I'm surprised that Dakota County isn't noted as part of it's territory.

Posted by: Nancy - Spring valley/Cherry Grove
on: 2015-09-26 18:46:02

Grows trailside along the Root River in parts of Forestville Sate Park.

Posted by: Arthur G. - Oberg Mountain
on: 2016-09-19 13:16:01

Saw some Agrimonia or other (in fruit) on the Oberg Mountain loop trail.

Posted by: Nancy Honeychuck - Forestville state park
on: 2018-07-22 10:47:35

Lots of agrimony alongside some trails in the park - not sure which type though. Also prevalent in restored prairie area near Cherry Gove in same general area and eco tome.

Posted by: Kenny h - Shooting Star Trail
on: 2019-08-12 08:34:57

Found this plant a couple days ago near mile marker 26...ID done by a reliable Facebook group...what strikes me about this plant is how yellowish green it is.

Posted by: Eric - St. Paul
on: 2023-02-01 13:30:14

I have noticed the inflorescence (mainly the peduncle) of this species smells a bit like Fruit Loops cereal. Not sure how consistent that is but I have noticed it in specimens from different locations. Haven't noticed a particular scent on other Agrimonia species in MN, so presumably it's from the glands on this species? #SmellMorePlants

Posted by: John - Houston County
on: 2023-08-30 15:18:26

For Simplicity Sake, Can we just lump all 3 species as one? Don't they all easily Cross/Hybridize? All 3 Agrimonia spp. are all Native, so should It matter in bigger picture which one I Plant? Also besides seeds sticking to my clothes, Can I use the Native Agrimonia's to make Tea? Similar to how the Chinese do it with their species of Agrimonia?

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2023-08-30 19:33:23

John, if you are planting it then it doesn't matter which native agrimony you have. Try Plants for a Future regarding edible and medicinal plants.

Posted by: John - Houston County
on: 2023-09-03 20:27:03

Thank you! I've been reading PFAF pages for years now. PFAF didn't say much about the Native ones. That's why I asked if the native ones can be used for teas the same way as the chinese agrimonia. I don't wanna bring another potentially invasive plant over if I can just use the Native ones instead. Also I just have to say, I really appreciate the detailed, descriptive plant profiles. I respect the work you do Big Time!

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2023-09-04 09:48:29

John, Minnesota Wildflowers does not have any expertise on edible plants or herbal uses.

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