Perennial herb to 2 m tall Stem: erect, unbranched or branched. Leaves: pinnately compound, stalked (with stipules), with well-developed lower leaves (to 50 cm long) and increasingly smaller upper leaves, bearing seven to seventeen leaflets. Flowers: borne on cylindrical spikes 3 - 20 cm long, white, lacking petals but having four petal-like sepals (2 - 3 mm long), four erect stamens, and one pistil. Fruit: a single achene enclosed in a four-angled calyx tube. Leafets: stalked, 2.5 - 10 cm long, egg-shaped to oblong or elliptic with a heart-shaped to rounded base and a blunt tip, toothed.
Similar species: Sanguisorba minor differs by having 2 cm or smaller main leaflets, two pistils, two achenes, and many drooping stamens.
Habitat and ecology: Very rare in moist prairies.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Etymology: Sanguisorba comes from the Latin words sanguis, meaning blood, and sorbeo, meaning "to soak up," referring to the once-thought ability of the plant to stop bleeding by contracting the blood vessels. Canadensis means "from Canada."
Author: The Morton Arboretum
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
This species has been found in only two places in the state. Blatchley found it in Vigo County, August 1, 1892, along the Vandalia Railroad through the Heckland Prairie north of the Otter Creek Junction, about 6 miles northeast of Terre Haute, and along the same railroad near Heckland, in sec. 8, about 8 miles northeast of Terre Haute. I found a few specimens in the last named place in 1917. In 1923 I found a few specimens in a springy place along Flint Creek about 3 miles northwest of Westpoint in Tippecanoe County.
Perennial from a thick rhizome; stem erect, usually simple below, to 15 dm; lower lvs to 5 dm (petiole included), the upper progressively reduced; stipules foliaceous; lfls 7-15, petiolulate, ovate to oblong or elliptic, 3-8 cm, blunt, sharply serrate; spikes 1- several, long-pedunculate, cylindric, 3-12 cm; fls all perfect; hypanthium not roughened between the wings; sep white, elliptic, spreading, 2-3 mm; 2n=56. Marshes, wet meadows, and damp prairies; Nf. and Lab. to Man., s. to N.J., Pa., O., and Ind., and in the mts. to W.Va., Ky. and N.C. July-Sept.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.