What’s This?

Q: Please identify this plant as it has grown into quite a colony in my yard.  The plants are about 2′ tall with the flower spikes.  They are definitely different from the snakeroot which is also getting aggressive!  My real concern is what kind of seed pods does it produce?  Last summer my dogs were getting thin black, slightly curved 1/2-3/4″hard seed cases that had very sharp pointePhoto of mystery plantd ends caught in their fur and I am concerned that one could get embedded in their paws. If this plant is the culprit, I will have to eliminate them even though I know they would be OK  in another setting. Thanks in advance for your expertise.


A: Good photo! That’s so helpful. This plant is one of two. They are both natives and both in the same genus. There is Osmorhiza claytonia – hairy sweet cicely – and there is Osmorhiza longistylis – smooth sweet Cecily. My native plant source says “Very common in woodlands, usually where the soils are good but the plant community degraded by disturbance.” Of course, that is always the case around here. Everything is disturbed, and these nice plants have nothing to hold them in check. It does have sharp seed cases, and it is invasive. I have it in my yard and pull it out regularly, but I can’t say it is under control. You will notice that the roots of the smooth sweet Cecily smell like licorice.  -Meredith Tucker