Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Common black snakeroot

Today’s featured native plant is a perennial that “can be used as a ground cover in shaded areas,” but I doubt anyone in the Bleeding Heartland community will seek it out for a garden or flower bed. Common black snakeroot (Sanicula odorata), known in some sources by the common name Clustered black snakeroot and/or the Latin name Sanicula gregaria, has flowers so unobtrusive they can be difficult to see. Clusters of them develop into burs, which stick to clothing, shoes, and pets. White avens plants use the same effective, if annoying, seed dispersal method, but the black snakeroot flowers are not as eye-catching as white avens.

I enclose below several pictures of common black snakeroot, which is prevalent in and near wooded areas throughout much of North America east of the Rocky Mountains.

This post is also a mid-week open thread: all topics welcome.  

The Illinois Wildflowers website includes a botanically accurate description of common black snakeroot foliage and flowers. Here’s a view of the leaves emerging in spring.

 photo blacksnakerootfoliage2_zpsrou2o9be.jpg

What appear to be flowers are not individual blossoms but round “umbels” about a half-inch in diameter, which each contain between 20 and 60 “tiny flowers and their pedicels.” I have neither the camera nor the photography skills to capture all the details, but you can get a sense of these tiny yellow flower clusters.

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Common black snakeroot flowers 2 photo blacksnakerootblooming2_zpspunyqn7t.jpg

Common black snakeroot flowers photo blacksnakerootclose3_zps1m9mvb3f.jpg

Common black snakeroot blooming photo blacksnakerootblooming_zpsczmavbwe.jpg

The arrow-shaped leaves near the bottom of this photo are violets, which bloomed earlier in the spring.

 photo blacksnakerootviolet2_zpsxwy4yhv7.jpg

The next two photos show common black snakeroot blooming near Virginia waterleaf, which is also prevalent in shady, wooded areas.

 photo Virginiawaterleafblacksnakeroot_zpszr3hsmhg.jpg

Common black snakeroot with Virginia waterleaf photo blacksnakerootVirginiawaterleaf_zpsalywu3i8.jpg

Showy wild geranium flowers overshadowing common black snakeroot:

Wild geranium with black snakeroot photo blacksnakerootwildgeranium_zpsmfp7s0q1.jpg

Apologies for the poor lighting, but this picture shows common black snakeroot in front of a budding Solomon’s seal plant, one of my favorite early summer wildflowers. I went back a week or so later, hoping to get a shot of the open flowers (hanging from curved stem), but in the meantime a deer had dined on the Solomon’s seal. The black snakeroot didn’t appear to be touched.

 photo blacksnakerootSolomonsseal_zpsx5xlwfbl.jpg

Common black snakeroot blooming in front of white snakeroot foliage near the top of the frame. White snakeroot will flower later in the summer.

 photo blacksnakerootwhitesnakeroot_zpsbgpphbtu.jpg

Tags: Wildflowers

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