Inclusion in Plant ID / Comparison Guides

This photo is featured in 3 plant ID/comparison guides:

collage of Clustered Blacksnakeroot and Small's Blacksnakeroot

Clustered Blacksnakeroot (Sanicula odorata) vs. Small's Blacksnakeroot (Sanicula smallii)

Updated May 31st, 2022

These species are sometimes confused, owing in part to several widely-circulating misidentified specimens and photographs that have been reproduced on numerous websites. They are easy to distinguish by leaf shape, color, and texture, as well as by differences in inflorescence or fruit. There is also less overlap in habitat between these species than between most Sanicula; S. odorata prefers sunnier, moister, more disturbed habitats, and is restricted to open deciduous woodlands, whereas S. smallii prefers shadier, drier, less disturbed habitats with more intact leaf or needle litter, and can be found in both deciduous (especially oak) and mixed pine-hardwood forest.

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collage of Maryland Sanicle and Clustered Blacksnakeroot

Maryland Sanicle (Sanicula marilandica) vs. Clustered Blacksnakeroot (Sanicula odorata)

Updated May 31st, 2022

These species have a large area of range overlap and are easily confused because both usually have 5 leaflets, and both have relatively showier, globe-shaped inflorescences with more numerous staminate flowers on longer pedicels, making them look similar to each other and less similar to the other two common Sanicula in the east. They can usually be distinguished the shape of the two leaflets close to the base of each leaf on basal leaves, and also by flower color and whether seeds are sessile. S. odorata ranges into sunnier, more disturbed habitats, is more likely to occur in large colonies, and ranges farther west in the southern states, whereas S. marilandica has a greater preference for slopes and high pH soils, and ranges farther north, and farther west in the north of its range.

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collage of Canadian Blacksnakeroot and Clustered Blacksnakeroot

Canadian Blacksnakeroot (Sanicula canadensis) vs. Clustered Blacksnakeroot (Sanicula odorata)

Updated May 9th, 2022

The various Sanicula sp. are notoriously hard to identify. These two can sometimes be distinguished by whether they have 5 true leaflets or just an appearance of such. They are more reliably distinguished by differences in flower color and structure. Both species are common in much of their range and can be found in a variety of habitats, with much overlap; S. odorata ranges slightly farther into sunnier, more disturbed habitats, whereas S. canadensis is, on average, found in shadier habitats with more organic matter in the soil, and is more tolerant of sandy and acidic soils.

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