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Native Wildflowers of the North Dakota Grasslands

JPG -- species photo

Spreadstem Musineon (Musineon divaricatum)


A plant in a group loosely called the "wild parsleys," spreadstem musineon is most abundant in the western half of North Dakota. However, there are outlying records from Barnes and LaMoure Counties. Overall, the plant inhabits the dry plains from Alberta to Colorado, at elevations under 6,000 ft.

Spreadstem musineon is perennial from a purple taproot. Plants are about four to eight inches tall. Stems spread out from the rootcrown and then curve upward. The stalked leaves are thick and glossy, and divided two or three times into leaflets and lobes. The tiny yellow flowers are borne in small stalked clusters atop a main stalk. A whole flat-topped group of flower clusters is about one or two inches wide.

Look for spreadstem musineon in heavily or moderately grazed native grassland, especially around claypans and below buttes. Livestock seem to avoid the plant, but it seldom becomes overly abundant. There are no known economic uses for this species.

Musineons are members of the parsley family (Apiaceae), which includes the useful carrot, parsnip, caraway, and dill, but also the deadly water hemlock, which probably is the most poisonous plant in the North Temperate Zone. Apium is the ancient Greek name for celery. The generic name Musineon is surely a corruption, possibly of the Greek mouseion "museum" or "shrine of Muses." Spreadstem musineon was first described for science by the eminent German botanist Frederick Pursh (1774-1820).


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