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  • Writer's pictureJulie Borneman

Plant Profile: Osmorhiza claytonii-Sweet Cicely

Updated: Aug 29, 2022

Photo: Jennifer Anderson, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

Sweet Cicely is a unique addition to a moist shady woodland garden. Reaching a height of 1-3 feet it has lovely flat clusters of white flowers from May-June, a time when the spring flowers are finishing and the summer flowers have not yet begun their show.

This uncommon plant will provide plenty of conversation starters. While Sweet Cicely attracts beneficial insects that will become food for small mammals and birds, it also provides value to humans. Native Americans once used the roots of this plant by chewing or gargling as a treatment for sore throats. They would also fashion a poultice of the roots and applied to boils, cuts & sores. They even made a tea from the roots to bath sore eyes. Certainly a staple in the native medicine cabinet. The Latin name means fragrant root because, when dug, are said to give off an anise-like scent.

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