Wild Flowers of Pittsburgh

Sweet Cicely (Osmorhiza claytonii)

A small relative of Queen Anne’s Lace, this one grows in the woods and bears its few-flowered umbels in spring. This plant was growing along the Trillium Trail, Fox Chapel, where it was blooming in the middle of May. The fern-like leaves are distinctive. A similar species, O. longistylis, is not hairy, and thus easy to distinguish.

Gray describes the genus and the species (which he spells Claytoni):

OSMORHÏZA Raf. SWEET CICELY. Calyx-teeth obsolete. Fruit with prominent caudate attenuation at base, and equal ribs. — Glabrous to hirsute perennials with thick aromatic roots, ternately compound leaves, ovate variously toothed leaflets, few-leaved in volucres, and white flowers in few-rayed and few-fruited umbels. (Name from osme, a scent, and rhiza, a root.) Washingtonia Raf.

O. Claytoni (Michx.) Clarke. Stems rather slender, 8-9 dm. high, vinous-pubescent; leaves <2-3-ternate, crisp-hairy; leaflets mostly 4-7 cm. long, acuminate, crenate-dentate and somewhat cleft; stipules ciliate-hispid; fruit (not including the attenuate base) 1-1.8 cm. long; stylopodium and style 0.7-1 mm. long. (O. brevistylis DC; Washingtonia Claytoni Britton.) — Open woods, e. Que. to w. Ont., s. to N. С, Ala., Mo., and Kan.

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One response

  1. Carol Lee Daniel

    Thank you so much for doing this. I have learned so much and had some fun going. Out into the wild part of my yard in Fox Chapel to find these plants. It’s really interesting to see what the small blooms look like up close.

    May 17, 2015 at 11:40 am

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