Sanicle - Sanicula europaea

Sanicle is a member of the Apiaceae family, often referred to as Umbellifers because of their umbrella shaped flower heads. The family includes the ancestors of many of our favourite vegetables - parsnips, carrots, parsley, celery, fennel - but also includes the most poisonous plants in Europe. They are considered fairly challenging to tell apart, but if you know what to look for, most of them are easy.

To identify an umbel to species level you need to note the following:

  • are the flowers white or yellow? (If they are yellow it narrows the choice of species down very considerably.)
  • are the stems hollow or solid?
  • are the stems spotted or tinged with red?
  • are the stems ridged or smooth?
  • are the stems hairy or hairless?
  • does the plant have a distinctive smell?
  • how divided are the leaves? Compare the leaf shape to illustrations in a field guide.
  • Compare the seed pods to illustrations in a field guide. The seed pods of different species are quite easy to distinguish from one another.
  • are there bracts (like small leaves) under the main or secondary umbels?
For other umbels on Loire Valley Nature click on the Umbellifers label in the right margin.

Scientific Name: Sanicula europaea.

English Name: Sanicle.

French Name: Le Sanicle d'Europe.

5 Key Characters:
  • an umbellifer (Carrot family Apiaceae).
  • 20 - 60 cm tall.
  • long stalked palmate leaves, up to 6 cm across, with shiny undersides.
  • small clusters of umbels of white (or sometimes pink) flowers.
  • umbels almost spherical.
Lookalikes: Leaves might be confused with Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa, but this species has much larger white star shaped flowers.

Habitat: Oak and beech woods on rich limey soil.

Flowering Period: April-May-June-July-August.

Status: Very common and easy to spot.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:

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