Osmorhiza longistylis

Common Names: Aniseroot, longstyle sweetroot, American sweet cicely, licorice root, wild anise, simply sweet cicely
Category: Plants
Sub-category: Carrot family

A herbaceous perennial, growing to about 1 to 2.5 feet tall, branching occasionally. The stems are light green to reddish purple, terete, and glabrous to hairy. The alternate leaves are ternately compound; the lower compound leaves are up to 9 inches long and 9 inches across, while the upper compound leaves are much smaller in size. Each compound leaf is divided into 3 compound leaflets; the terminal compound leaflet is the largest. Each compound leaflet is further divided into 3 subleaflets; the terminal subleaflet is the largest, sometimes appearing to be divided into 3 even smaller subleaflets. The subleaflets are 1 to 4 inches long, 0.5 to 1.5 inches across, and lanceolate to oval-ovate shape in shape; their margins are coarsely serrated-crenate or shallowly cleft. The upper subleaflet surface is yellowish green to green and nearly glabrous to moderately covered with appressed hairs. The petioles of compound leaves are light green to reddish purple and up to 6 inches in length. The petiolules of leaflets are light green to reddish green and up to 2 inches long, while those of subleaflets are nearly sessile to 0.25 inches long.

The upper stems terminate in compound umbels of white flowers about 1.5 to 3 inches across. There are about 3 to 6 umbellets per compound umbel on rays (floral stalks) up to 2 inches long. An umbellet has 7 to 16 flowers that are clustered together on rays (floral stalklets) up to 0.25 inches long. Each flower (about 3 mm. across) has 5 white petals with incurved tips, 5 white stamens, a pistil with a divided white style (stylopodium), and an insignificant calyx that is light green. At the base of each compound umbel, there are several linear-lanceolate bracts with ciliate margins; they are up to 8 mm. in length. At the base of each umbellet, there are several linear-lanceolate bractlets with ciliate margins; they are also up to 8 mm. in length. The foliage of this plant releases a mild anise fragrance when it is rubbed.

Typically found in moist to mesic deciduous woodlands and gentle slopes of wooded ravines. The blooming period occurs during the late spring or early summer, lasting about 2 to 3 weeks.

Primary Flower Color: White
Secondary Flower Color: White
Edible Notes: The plant has a distinct licorice flavor and the root, flowers, leaves and young stems, and seeds (pretty much the entire plant) are reported to be edible, both raw and cooked. However, there is a very large risk of misidentification with the deadly poisonous hemlock plant and should be avoided by amateur foragers. Poisonous hemlock is so deadly that even a small bit could prove lethal, so it may not be worth the risk to try to consume this plant.
Warnings: Not known to be dangerous.