Purple Sanicle

Purple Sanicle © DSchiel

Shoe Buttons, Snakeroot, Satellite Plant
Sanicula bipinnatifida

Description (Jepson, PlantID.net)

    • Eudicotyledon
      • Eudicots are a major lineage of flowering plants; see family for general characteristics
    • Carrot / Parsley Family (Apiaceae)
    • Perennial herb
      • Grows from a taproot
    • Leaves
      • Basal and alternate (1 leaf at each junction with stem)
      • Deeply divided into several roughly-toothed lobes
      • Long, thick leaf stalks (petioles)
      • Purple-tinged
    • Flowers
      • Inflorescence (flower arrangement) is a densely-packed, reddish-purple ball of flowers
      • Each flowerhead has around 20 bisexual and male-only flowers
      • Stamens (male flower parts) extend beyond the 5 tiny, curling petals
      • Ovary inferior (below the attachment of other flower parts)
    • Fruit is a schizocarp (a dry fruit that splits into 2 single-seeded segments)
    • Height to 2 ft.
    Flower © KKorbholz


      • Native to California
        • Grows in woodlands and grasslands, and areas with serpentine soils
        • 55-64% of the plants occur on ultramafic soils, e.g.serpentine; see ultramafic affinity rankings (Calfora per Safford and Miller 2020)
        • See Calflora for statewide observations of this plant
      • Outside California, grows on the west coast of North America from British Columbia to Baja California, Mexico
      • Grows at elevations between 65 and 6,070 ft.

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

        • Native people used a decoction of the root as a cure-all and applied an infusion of leaves to snakebites

        Name Derivation

          • Sanicula (san-IK-yoo-la) – from the diminutive of the Latin sanare, meaning “to heal”
          • bipinnatifida (bye-pin-a-TIF-i-da)- from the Latin for “twice pinnately cut,” referring to the leaf


            • Pollinated by insects
            • Seeds have curved prickles, which can attach to fur or clothing, enabling dispersal

            ID Tips

              • Edgewood has 5 native sanicles (Sanicula species)
                • Purple sanicle is the only one with reddish-purple, ball-shaped flowers

              At Edgewood

                • Found in grasslands
                • Flowers February – May

                See General References

                Specific References

                  Alexander, E.B. 2010, Oct. & 2011, Jan. Serpentine Soils and Why They Limit Plant Survival and Growth. Fremontia, vol. 38:4/39:1, pp. 28-31.

                    Safford, H.D. 2010, Oct. & 2011, Jan. Serpentine Endemism of the California Flora. Fremontia, vol. 38:4/39:1, pp. 32-39.

                      Safford, H.D. and Miller, J.E.D. 2020. An Updated Database of Serpentine Endemism in the California Flora. [manuscript accepted by] Madrono, California Botanical Society, Northridge, California.