General: perennial, not markedly odorous, from a well-developed taproot. Stems solitary or sometimes 2 or 3, rather slender, 30-100 cm tall, branched and leafy near tips. Herbage stiff-hairy to occasionally essentially hairless.
Leaves: twice divided in 3's, the leaflets thin, narrowly to broadly ovate, coarsely toothed and sometimes 3-lobed, 2-7 cm long and 1-5.5 cm wide. Basal leaves several, long-stalked, stem leaves 1-3, opposite, single or whorled, with shorter stalks or almost stalkless.
Flowers: greenish-white, small. Umbels several, small, inconspicuous, and short-stalked at flowering, becoming open and long-stalked at maturity, the umbel-stalks 5-25 cm long, the 3-8 rays ascending-spreading, 2-12 cm long. Involucre and involucels absent or nearly so.
Fruits: mostly 10-15 mm long, club-shaped, convexly narrowed to the rounded or mainly blunt summit, the tip not at all beaklike. Stylopodium low-conic to depressed, as wide as or often wider than high.
Woodlands, from the plains to moderate elevations in the mountains, in w. and s. parts of MT. Also from s. AK to n.e. CA and s. NV, NM and e. to w. SD, and in the Great Lakes region and from VT to Newfoundland.
The root of sweet-root is edible, raw or cooked. At its mildest early in the season, it has a parsnip-like flavor. It is also used as a flavoring, imparting an anise-like flavor. The Isleta Indians boiled the roots and stems to make a beverage. The seeds are edible, raw or used as a flavoring.