[The Snake Roots of the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon and Washington]

Pacific Sanicle, Pacific Snakeroot, Western Snakeroot

Sanicula crassicaulis

Synonyms: Sanicula crassicaulis var. crassicaulis, Sanicula crassicaulis var. tripartita, Sanicula menziesii, Sanicula tripartita

The photo above shows a close-up of the leathery green leaf of western snake root as seen in leaf litter beneath the Oregon white oaks at Catherine Creek, Columbia River Gorge.......April 9, 2006.

Characteristics:

Western snake root is a perennial wildflower with a single stem arising from 25-120 cm high from a taproot. The thick stems range from simple to branchedand are glabrous. The basal leaves are long petioled with the blade orbicular in outline with 3 shallow to deep lobes. The lobes are toothed along the edge, with the teeth each tipped with a bristle. The stem leaves are alternate with the lower leaves well developed and petiolate and the upper leaves reduced in size, sessile and more deeply incised. The blades range from 3-13 cm long and 2-18 cm wide.

The inflorescence is a cluster of several umbellets borne on several short, irregular and thin rays. The bracts at the base of the primary umbel are leaflike. The individual umbellets are 3-10 flowered and subtended by several lanceolate bractlets.The subsessile flowers are yellow or sometimes more or less purplish in color. The fruits are subglobose and covered with stout, hooked prickles. The individual fruits range from 2-5 mm long and 2-4 mm wide.

The leaves and flowers of western snake root would make a nice ground cover in a dryland open forest.


Habitat:

Western snake root may be found in moist to dry, lightly wooded slopes and flatlands from low elevation to moderate elevation in the foothills.


Range:

Western snake root may be found from southern British Columbia south along the west side of the Cascade Mts to California and eastward into the Columbia River Gorge where it extends as far east as Klickitat County in south-central Washington.

In the Columbia River Gorge it may be found between the elevations of 100'-2200' from east of Washougal, WA eastward to the Klickitat River.


The photo above shows a cluster of basal leaves of western snake root as seen at Catherine Creek in the Columbia River Gorge.........April 14, 2007.

Upper stem leaves and inflorescence of Pacific Sanicle, Pacific Snakeroot, Western Snakeroot: Sanicula crassicaulis (Synonyms: Sanicula crassicaulis var. crassicaulis, Sanicula crassicaulis var. tripartita, Sanicula menziesii, Sanicula tripartita)

Stem leaves and inflorescence of Pacific sanicle as seen in oak woods above the Klickitat River in the Klickitat State Wildlife Area of south-central Washington.........May 24, 2009.

Stem leaves of Pacific Sanicle, Pacific Snakeroot, Western Snakeroot: Sanicula crassicaulis (Synonyms: Sanicula crassicaulis var. crassicaulis, Sanicula crassicaulis var. tripartita, Sanicula menziesii, Sanicula tripartita)

Upper stem leaves of Pacific sanicle as seen in oak woods above the Klickitat River in the Klickitat State Wildlife Area of south-central Washington.........May 24, 2009.

The upper stem leaves and inflorescence of Pacific Sanicle, Pacific Snakeroot, Western Snakeroot: Sanicula crassicaulis (Synonyms: Sanicula crassicaulis var. crassicaulis, Sanicula crassicaulis var. tripartita, Sanicula menziesii, Sanicula tripartita)

A close-up of the upper stem leaves and inflorescence of Pacific sanicle as seen at a shaded spring under oaks on western Tracy Hill, Catherine Creek........May 20, 2011.

Newly arisen leaves of Pacific Sanicle, Pacific Snakeroot, Western Snakeroot: Sanicula crassicaulis (Synonyms: Sanicula crassicaulis var. crassicaulis, Sanicula crassicaulis var. tripartita, Sanicula menziesii, Sanicula tripartita) - Pacific Sanicle, Pacific Snakeroot, Western Snakeroot: Sanicula crassicaulis (Synonyms: Sanicula crassicaulis var. crassicaulis, Sanicula crassicaulis var. tripartita, Sanicula menziesii, Sanicula tripartita)

Newly arisen foliage of Pacific sanicle as seen in a spring under Oregon white oaks at Catherine Creek, Columbia River Gorge..........January 31, 2016.

Paul Slichter