Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Sweet Cicely
Osmorhiza claytoni

Family: Apiaceae (ay-pee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Osmorhiza (os-me-RY-za) (Info)
Species: claytoni


12-18 in. (30-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

Unknown - Tell us

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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Thumbnail #1 of Osmorhiza claytoni by jg48650

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2 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive plant_it On Jun 2, 2012, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

Sweet Cicely is a likely host plant for the Black Swallowtail butterfly.

Most species of Osmorhiza are native to North America, but some grow in South America and Asia.

Osmorhiza claytoni is native to most of the U.S.:

Osmorhiza claytoni has leaves that are yellowish green. There are white hairs on the stem and to a lesser extent on the leaves as well. When broken it has an anise like smell or flavor.The seeds of this plant have barbs on the end allowing them to stick to clothing, fur, or feathers.

Positive Sherlock_Holmes On Oct 5, 2006, Sherlock_Holmes from Millersburg, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

"The Encyclopedia of Edible Plants of North America: Nature's Green Feast" by Francois Couplan, Ph.D. has this to say about Sweet Cicely.

"The roots of all species are aromatic and can be used for flavoring desserts and drinks or as tea: they contain an essential oil similar to that distilled from the furits of Anise (Pimpinella anisum).

The tender young stems make an excellent nibble while walking in the woods, and the young shoots and leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. The latter, like the rest of the plant, have definite anise flavor, but develop an unpleasant, bitter aftertaste.

Roots and foliage of O. claytonii - East & Central North America - were used as food by Indians."

"Edible Wild Plants of Eastern North America" by Fernald & Kinsey has this to say.

"The stout, fleshy and forking roots of these plants have a considerable amount of anise-oil, some species more than others, and for those who care for that flavor make a readily available camp-seasoning."


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Valparaiso, Indiana
Bay City, Michigan
Big Rapids, Michigan
Millersburg, Pennsylvania
Leesburg, Virginia
Falling Waters, West Virginia

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