Astrantia major - Great Masterwort / Mountain Sanicle

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Apiales - Family: Apiaceae

Great Masterwort

Great Masterwort is one of the most beautiful members of the family Apiaceae, but at a casual glance it is not at all obvious that it belongs to the Carrot family.


Great Masterwort can grow to a height of 90cm, but plants 50 to 60cm tall are more typical. The flowers of this perennial, hairless herb can be pink or greenish-white and are borne in dense unbels. The inner flowers, which are about 1mm across, are hermaphrodite while those at the edge of the umbel are male; they each have five petals and five long stamens. .

Side view of flowers of Astrantia major


This lovely wildflower can be found in a number of European countries and will grow in altitudes of up to 2000 metres above sea level. Its territory in Europe extends from as far north as Sweden ansouth to include the Alps in Austria and Switerland, and the Julian Alps in Slovenia. To the east its range extends into western Asia. In Britain Great Masterwort is found only as a garden escape that has become naturalised.

Top view of Great Masterwort flower


In the wild Astrantia major grows in dry to slightly moist conditions in open sunny positions in meadows, and sometimes on woodland edges. Astrantia major prefers calcareous substrates, unlike its smaller relative, Astrantia minor, which can tolerate slightly more acidic conditions.

Great Masterwort, Slovenia

Flowering times

Great Masterwort flowers from mid-June until the middle of September. The specimens shown on this page were photographed in Slovenia in July.

Sue Parker's latest ebook is a revised and enlarged second edition of the acclaimed Wildflowers in the Algarve - an introductory guide. Full details here...

Buy it for just £3.95 on Amazon...

Sue Parker's 5-star acclaimed field guide to the Wild Orchids of the Algarve is now available as an ebook. Full details here...

Buy it for just £5.95 on Amazon...

Please Help Us: If you have found this information interesting and useful, please consider helping to keep First Nature online by making a small donation towards the web hosting and internet costs.

Any donations over and above the essential running costs will help support the conservation work of Plantlife, the Rivers Trust and charitable botanic gardens - as do author royalties and publisher proceeds from books by Pat and Sue.

© 1995 - 2024 First Nature: a not-for-profit volunteer-run resource

Please help to keep this free resource online...

Terms of use - Privacy policy - Disable cookies - Links policy