Osmorhiza longistylis (Torr.) DC.

Osmorhiza longistylis plant

Family - Apiaceae

Stems - To 1m tall, glabrous to hirsute, branching, erect, herbaceous, from thickened roots.

Osmorhiza longistylis stem

Osmorhiza longistylis rootsRoots.

Leaves - Alternate, ternate. Leaflets lobed to serrate, 1-5cm wide, 3-10cm long, pubescent to villous, ovate to lance-ovate.

Osmorhiza longistylis leaf

Inflorescence - Compound umbels with typically +3 primary rays. Rays and umbellets subtended by recurved linear-lanceolate bracts. Bracts villous. Primary rays to -5cm long.

Osmorhiza longistylis inflorescence

Osmorhiza longistylis bractsBracts of inflorescence.

Flowers - Petals 5, white, subequal but typically one or two larger than the others, to 2mm long and broad, with apical tip curved adaxially. Margins of petal folded abaxially. Stamens 5, alternating with petals, spreading to erect. Filaments to -3mm long, white. Anthers .2mm long, pale-yellow. Styles +/- 2mm long in flower, equaling or longer than petals, spreading. Fruits lance-oblong in shape, +/- 10mm long, +/- 2mm wide near apex, tapering to base, black when mature. Styles in fruit 2-4mm long.

Osmorhiza longistylis flowersFlowers close-up.

Osmorhiza longistylis stylesStyles of the flower.

Osmorhiza longistylis fruitFruit.

Flowering - April - June.

Habitat - Moist ground in wooded areas, shaded slopes, ravines.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This licorice smelling plant can be found throughout Missouri. All parts of the plant exhibit a sweet fragrance but the roots and fruits are the best to chew on.
Steyermark lists three varieties in Missouri. Variety longistylis has stems which are glabrous to only very sparsely hairy. Variety brachyoma has very short(.5mm or less) hairs on the stems. Variety villicaulis has longer(.5-2mm) and more plentiful hairs on the stems.
There is another species of this genus in Missouri, O. claytoni. This species has styles which are a bit shorter and the plant is not scented. Good luck telling them apart.

Photographs taken in the Ozark Scenic Riverways, Shannon County, MO., 5-20-03, and in Columbia, MO., 4-25-04.