Sweet Cicely or Osmorhiza berteroi

Osmorhiza berteroi or Sweet Cicely

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Osmorhiza berteroi is a species of flowering plant in the carrot family known by the common name mountain sweet cicely.

Osmorhia or Sweet Cicely
Scientific classification:
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Apiales
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Osmorhiza
Species: O. berteroi
Binomial name: Osmorhiza berteroi


It has an amphitropical distribution being native to both temperate parts of North and South America. In the Northern Hemisphere it is found boreal zones from Alaska to Newfoundland, extending south to South Dakota, and in mountain ranges adjacent to the Pacific coast from the Alaska panhandle to California and Arizona. In South America it occurs in Magellanic forests in Argentina and Chile.

The amphitropical distribution is believed to have arisen recently (in the past 1 million years), probably by seeds attached to the feathers of migratory birds. In contrast the east-west disjunct distribution are most likely relict populations of a once continuous range.


It is an aromatic perennial herb producing a branching stem which may exceed a meter tall. The plentiful green leaves have blades up to 20 centimeters long which are divided into three leaflets (trifoliate), which are toothed or lobed. The blade is borne on a long petiole. The inflorescence is a compound umbel of many tiny white flowers at the tip of a stemlike peduncle. There are 4–10 florets on each umbellule with the central florets only possessing anthers. The narrow, elongated fruit is ribbed and bristly, measuring up to 2.5 centimeters long.

Similar species

O. berteroi occurs alongside several other species of Osmorhiza throughout its range, but is most likely to be confused with O. depaurerata. The two species are very similar and most easily separated by examining the seeds.


Relationship with humans:

Use for food and medicine

O. berteroi was used as a source of food by several groups of Native Americans in all parts of its native range. These included the Selknam people in what is now Chile, and tribes of the Great Plains, such as the Cheyenne and Blackfoot. The root was eaten, and also used as a medicinal treatment for coughs and colds.

Garden plant

It can be used as ground cover in shady places. Hardy in USDA zones 5-9.


It is not threatened in most parts of its range. However some disjunct populations in eastern North America are isolated, and the typical habitat is fragmented and prone to destruction.


Bibliographic details for “Osmorhiza berteroi”
Page name: Osmorhiza berteroi
Author: Wikipedia contributors
Publisher: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
Date of last revision: 5 May 2017 23:05 UTC
Date retrieved: 8 December 2017 21:31 UTC
Permanent link: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Osmorhiza_berteroi&oldid=778913655
Primary contributors: Revision history statistics
Page Version ID: 778913655