The wildflower known as the Aniseroot is aptly named. The leaves and root of this wildflower really do smell like the Anise spice of Asia (but they are not related.) Even this plant's scientific name is descriptive regarding the aroma: Osmorhiza longistylis. Osmorhiza means "fragrant root". Licorice is derived from Anise, therefore, another common name of this wildflower is Licorice Root.

Aniseroot has a very similir looking cousin, the Sweet Cicily wildflower. The best way to tell them apart is via the styles in the flower blossoms of the Aniseroot- they are longer than the styles of the Sweet Cicily- thus the scientific name of "longistylis." Both plants are members of the carrot family (Apiaceae).

Both the leaves and the root of the Aniseroot plant are edible. The leaves can be added to salads to add some flavor, however, it has been reported that the leaves also produce a bitter aftertaste. (source). But, like the root of the Toothwort, Aniseroot is primarily used as a spice or condiment rather than as a food to be eaten whole.

The root of Aniseroot has a long folk medicine history as well. Some of its reported medicinal uses have included (source: Native American Ethnobotany;Moerman) :

  • Used as an eye salve by various North American Indian tribes
  • The Omaha and Ponca Indian tribes would use the root to attract horses
  • The Potawatomi tribe chopped the roots and added it to their fodder to fatten their horses
  • The Chippewa used a decoction of the roots as a wash for their dogs' noses to increase their sense of smell


Eve said...

Very informative Daniel. Are they also related to Queen Anne’s Lace?

Daniel Spurgeon said...

Hi Eve, thanks for the comment. You are correct, Aniseroot is related to the Queen Anne's Lace- they are both in the carrot family. I am enjoying your posts- especially your viewpoints on seeing many new creatures and plants here in Alabama. I would have the same sense of wonder if I were to be moved up into New England, I am sure. :)

Daniel Spurgeon said...

Hi Debi, did you see the Aniseroot article? It is want of my favorite "woods" plants now. The root really does smell strongly like the Anise spice. It is very cool!