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Perennial herb from a stout branched rhizome or woody stem-base with fibrous roots; stems erect, solitary, simple below the inflorescence, smooth or nearly so, 10-40 cm tall.
Basal leaves spoon-shaped to egg-shaped, up to 8 cm long and 3 cm wide, mostly simple, smooth, long-stalked; stem leaves opposite, 2-4 pairs, up to 5 cm long and 2.5 cm wide, pinnately cleft with 1-7 pairs of lateral lobes, the terminal lobe narrowly oblong, short-stalked or unstalked.
Inflorescence a compact, round-topped cluster of either male and female or only female flowers; corollas white, 2-4 mm long, lobed, the lobes about equal to the tubes; calyces with 9-15 feathery segments; stamens well exserted.
Achenes, lanceolate, 3-5 mm long, up to 2 mm wide, smooth.
The North American plants, recognized as ssp. sylvatica, are closely related to and not always easily distinguished from the Eurasian ssp. dioica.
Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia