Pacific Sanicle

Pacific Sanicle © DSchiel

Gambleweed, Pacific Snakeroot
Sanicula crassicaulis

Description (Jepson,

    • Eudicotyledon
      • Eudicots are a major lineage of flowering plants; see family for general characteristics
    • Carrot / Parsley Family (Apiaceae)
    • Herbaceous perennial
      • Grows from a taproot
    • Leaves
      • Palmately lobed (lobes radiating from a single point) with toothed margins
      • Surface coarse-textured
      • Sheath at base of petiole (leaf stalk)
    • Flowers
      • Inflorescence (flower arrangement) is a double umbel
        • An umbel is a spoke-like flower cluster with stalks radiating from a single point
        • A double umbel is two-tiered, like an umbrella of umbrellas
      • Large leafy green bracts (modified leaf at flower base)
      • Minute yellow flowers with curled petals
      • Both bisexual and male-only flowers
      • Ovary inferior (below the attachment of other flower parts)
    • Fruit is a schizocarp (a dry fruit that splits into 2 one-seeded segments), with curving prickles, borne in small clusters
    • Height to 39 in.
      • Some plants grow quite tall and open; others stay more compact


      • Native to California
        • Grows in chaparral and on wooded slopes and canyons in oak, redwood, and mixed evergreen forests
        • See Calflora for statewide observations of this plant
      • Outside California, grows from British Columbia to Baja California, Mexico, and southern South America
      • Grows at elevations to 4,900 ft.
      Flower (L), Fruit (M), Leaf (R)
      © KKorbholz (L,M) and SBernhard (R)

      Uses (Picking or removing any natural material from public land is illegal)

        • Native people made a poultice of the leaves for rattlesnake bites and other wounds

        Name Derivation

          • Sanicula (san-IK-yoo-la) – the diminutive of the Latin sanare, “to heal”
          • crassicaulis (kras-i-KAW-lis) – from the Latin crassus, “thick,” and caulis, “stem”; thus “thick-stemmed”


            • Prickles on the fruit enable seeds to be dispersed by attaching to animal fur or you!

            ID Tips

              • Edgewood has 5 native sanicles (Sanicula species)
                • Pacific sanicle grows the tallest, is distinct in form, and is the only Edgewood sanicle that is common along woodland trails

              At Edgewood

                • Found in all plant communities, but especially common in woodlands
                • Flowers March – May

                See General References

                Specific References

                  Wilson, B. 2012. Sanicula crassicaulis, Snakeroot. Las Pilitas Native Plant Nursery.