Maryland black snakeroot

(Sanicula marilandica)

Conservation Status
Maryland black snakeroot
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
Wetland Indicator Status
     
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland

     
  Midwest

FACU - Facultative upland

     
  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Maryland black snakeroot is a 16 to 48 tall, erect, perennial herb that rises on one to several basal leaves and a single stem from a cluster of fibrous roots.

The stems are hairless and are usually branched only above the middle.

Basal leaves are broadly triangular to egg-shaped or nearly circular in outline and up to 6 wide. They are on up to 6 long stalks (petioles) and are palmately divided into 5 leaflets. The lowest two leaflets are deeply cut making the leaf appear to have 7 leaflets. The number of leaflets and apparent leaflets is an important identifying feature. A useful mnemonic for this species is “5 looks like 7”. The leaflets or segments are inversely lance-shaped or inversely egg-shaped, wedge-shaped at the base, and stalkless. The upper and lower surfaces are hairless. The margins are doubly-toothed with sharp, forward-pointing teeth, and are shallowly lobed near the tip. Basal leaves are usually present at flowering time.

Stem leaves are alternate. The lowest stem leaves are on long petioles and are similar to basal leaves. They become smaller, less divided, and shorter stalked as they ascend the stem. Middle leaves are on short petioles. The uppermost leaves are stalkless and sometimes appear opposite.

The inflorescence is 1 to 5 compound, umbrella-shaped clusters (umbels) at the end of the stem and usually also rising from upper leaf axils. The umbels are subtended by a pair of leaf-like, 3-lobed bracts. The branches of the umbels (rays) are straight, ascending or spreading, and up to 1 long but unequal in length. At the end of each ray there is a single, to ½ wide secondary umbel (umbellet).

The umbellets may have 12 to 120 flowers but usually have no more than 25 flowers. Some have only male (staminate) flowers. Most have 1 to 4, usually 3, perfect flowers (containing both male and female parts). Each umbellet is subtended by 3 to 9 minute, narrow, toothed bractlets. The perfect flowers are stalkless. The staminate flowers are on 1 16 to long stalks and rise above the perfect flowers.

Each flower is up to in diameter and has 5 sepals, 5 petals, and 9 to 117 stamens. The sepals are green, 1 32 to 1 16 long, narrowly lance-shaped to triangular, and slightly fused at the base. They are as long or nearly as long as the petals. The petals are greenish-white, inversely lance-shaped to egg-shaped, and tapered to a slender tip. The stamens have yellow anthers and extend well above the corolla. Perfect flowers have two long, slender, spreading styles. The styles are more than twice as long as the sepals and extend well above the corolla.

The fruit is a dry, brownish-green, egg-shaped, to ¼ long, to 5 16 wide, 2-seeded capsule (schizocarp). It is covered with long, hooked bristles, shorter bristles near the base. The base of each bristle is stout and bulbous. The sepals are inconspicuous among the bristles. The persistent styles are much longer than the bristles and are curved backward. The inner face of the split fruit, where the two mericarps meet, is wrinkled and bears a elliptical scar.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

16 to 48

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

Greenish-white

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
 

The number of leaflets on the basal and lower stem leaves of black snakeroots (Sanicula spp.) is an important identifying feature. However, the lateral leaflets are often deeply lobed, often to the base, appearing to be two separate leaflets.

Canadian black snakeroot (Sanicula canadensis var. canadensis) basal and lower stem leaves are 3-parted with two deeply cut — “3 looks like 5”. There are only 2 to 7 flowers in each flower cluster. The flowers are white. All umbellets include both perfect and male flowers. Perfect flowers are stalked. Male flowers are short-stalked and are concealed by the perfect flowers. The sepals are longer than the petals. The styles are inconspicuous, shorter than the bristles.

Clustered black snakeroot (Sanicula odorata) is a smaller plant, no more than 32 in height. Basal and lower stem leaves are mostly 5-parted — “5 looks like 5”. The flowers are greenish-yellow. Perfect flowers are stalked. Male flowers are short-stalked and are concealed by the perfect flowers. The sepals are much shorter than the petals.

Large-fruited black snakeroot (Sanicula trifoliata) is much less common, mostly restricted to the southeastern counties. Basal and lower stem leaves are 3-parted, sometimes with with two deeply cut — “3 looks like 3 (or 5)”. There are only 4 to 11 flowers, usually 7 or fewer, in each flower cluster. The flowers are white. All umbellets include both perfect and male flowers. The sepals in flower are longer than the petals. The styles are inconspicuous, shorter than the bristles. The fruits are ¼ to 5 16 long. The sepals in fruit converge, forming a beak as long or longer than the bristles.

Long-styled black snakeroot (Sanicula canadensis var. grandis) basal and lower stem leaves are 3-parted with two deeply cut — “3 looks like 5”. There are only 2 to 7 flowers in each flower cluster. The flowers are white. All umbellets include both perfect and male flowers. Perfect flowers are stalked. Male flowers are short-stalked and are concealed by the perfect flowers. The sepals are longer than the petals. The styles are inconspicuous, shorter than the bristles.

 
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Moist, deciduous, mixed, and coniferous woodlands; marsh edges; river banks. Partial sun to medium shade.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

June to August

 
     
 
Use
 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28, 29, 30.

 
         
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Very common and widespread

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (dicots)  
  Superorder Asteranae  
 

Order

Apiales (carrots, ivies, and allies)  
  Suborder Apiineae  
 

Family

Apiaceae (carrots)  
  Subfamily Saniculoideae  
  Tribe Saniculeae  
 

Genus

Sanicula (sanicle)  
       
 

National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) places the genera Eryngium and Sanicula in the tribe Saniculeae in the the subfamily Saniculoideae. Germplasm Resource Information Network (GRIN) places the genera within the same tribe Saniculeae in the subfamily Apioideae. ITIS does not recognize either the subfamily or the tribe. The APG IV system on the Angiosperm Phylogeny Website by the Missouri Botanical Garden (MOBOT) also places the two genera in the subfamily Saniculoideae. At least two recent molecular DNA studies of the subfamily Saniculeae maintain the placement of both genera within the subfamily Saniculoideae. No discussion of moving the genera could be found. If the placement in the subfamily Apioideae is an error, that error is repeated by Wikipedia on both Eryngium and Sanicula pages.

 
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

 

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Sanicula canadesis var. marilandica

Sanicula marilandica var. petiolulata

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

black sanicle

black snakeroot

Maryland black snakeroot

Maryland black-snakeroot

Maryland sanicle

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Axil

The upper angle where a branch, stem, leaf stalk, or vein diverges.

 

Bract

Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk, flower cluster, or inflorescence.

 

Bractlet

A small, often secondary bract within an inflorescence; a bract that is borne on a petiole instead of subtending it; bracteole.

 

Corolla

A collective name for all of the petals of a flower.

 

Mericarp

The split, usually one-seeded portion of a dry, multi-seeded fruit.

 

Palmate

Similar to a hand. Having more than three lobes or leaflets that radiate from a single point at the base of the leaf.

 

Perfect

Referring to a flower that has both male and female reproductive organs.

 

Petiole

The stalk of a leaf blade or compound leaf that attaches the leaf blade to the stem.

 

Pistillate

Referring to a flower that has a female reproductive organ (pistil) but does not have male reproductive organs (stamens).

 

Ray

In the Asteraceae (aster) family: a strap-shaped flower, or the strap-shaped portion of a flower. In the Apiaceae (carrot) and Euphorbiaceae (spurge) families: a branch of an umbel.

 

Schizocarp

A dry fruit formed from a compound ovary that splits into two or more parts (mericarps) at maturity.

 

Sepal

An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

 

Staminate

Referring to a flower that has a male reproductive organs (stamens) but does not have a female reproductive organ (pistil).

 

Style

Part of the pistil, usually a slender stalk, connecting the ovary to the stigma(s).

 

Umbel

A flat-topped or convex, umbrella-shaped cluster of flowers or buds arising from more or less a single point.

 

Umbellet

A secondary umbel in a compound umbel.

       
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Plant

  Maryland black snakeroot    
       

Basal Leaves

  Maryland black snakeroot   Maryland black snakeroot
       
  Maryland black snakeroot    
       

Stem Leaves

  Maryland black snakeroot   Maryland black snakeroot
       

Inflorescence

  Maryland black snakeroot   Maryland black snakeroot
       
  Maryland black snakeroot    
       
       

 

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