Balsamorhiza sagittata

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Balsamorhiza sagittata
Balsamorhiza sagittata 10.jpg
Balsamorhiza sagittata near Horselake, Chelan County Washington
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Balsamorhiza
B. sagittata
Binomial name
Balsamorhiza sagittata
  • Balsamorhiza helianthoides (Nutt.) Nutt.
  • Buphthalmum sagittatum Pursh
  • Espeletia helianthoides Nutt.
  • Espeletia sagittata (Pursh) Nutt.

Balsamorhiza sagittata is a North American species of flowering plant in the sunflower tribe of the aster family known by the common name arrowleaf balsamroot. It is widespread across western Canada and much of the western United States.[2] A specimen was collected by explorer and botanist Meriwether Lewis near Lewis and Clark Pass in 1806.[3]


Distribution of Balsamorhiza sagittata in Canada and the United States.

The plant's native range extends from British Columbia and Alberta in the north, southward as far as northern Arizona and the Mojave Desert of California, and as far east as the Black Hills of South Dakota.[2] It grows in many types of habitat from mountain forests to grassland to desert scrub.[4][5] It is drought tolerant.[6]


The leaves are entire and covered with fine to rough hairs, especially on the undersides.

This is a taprooted perennial herb growing a hairy, glandular stem 20 to 60 centimeters tall. The branching, barky root may extend over two meters deep into the soil. The basal leaves are generally triangular in shape and are large, approaching 50 centimeters in maximum length. Leaves farther up the stem are linear to narrowly oval in shape and smaller. The leaves have untoothed edges and are coated in fine to rough hairs, especially on the undersides.[7][8][9][10]

The inflorescence bears one or more flower heads. Each head has a center of long yellowish tubular disc florets and a fringe of bright yellow ray florets, each up to 4 centimeters long. The fruit is a hairless achene about 8 millimeters long. Grazing animals find the plant palatable, especially the flowers and developing seed heads.[11]


Elk and deer browse the leaves.[12]

Culinary and medicinal[edit]

Coming into season in late spring, all of the plant can be eaten[6]—particularly the roots (boiled) and the seeds.[13] It can be bitter and pine-like in taste.[14] The leaves are best collected when young and can carry a citrus flavor.[15]

Many Native American groups, including the Nez Perce, Kootenai, Cheyenne, and Salish, utilized the plant as a food and medicine.[16][11] The seeds were particularly valuable as food or used for oil.[17] In 1806, William Clark collected a specimen near the White Salmon River, and both he and Frederick Pursh noted that the stem was eaten raw by the American natives.[15]


Under the name Okanagan Sunflower, it is the official flower emblem of the city of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.[18]



  1. ^ "Balsamorhiza sagittata (Pursh) Nutt.". The Global Compositae Checklist (GCC) – via The Plant List.
  2. ^ a b "Balsamorhiza sagittata". County-level distribution map from the North American Plant Atlas (NAPA). Biota of North America Program (BONAP). 2014.
  3. ^ Schiemann, Donald Anthony, Wildflowers of Montana, page 238, Mountain Press Publishing Company, Missoula, 2005.
  4. ^ Sullivan, Steven. K. (2015). "Balsamorhiza sagittata". Wildflower Search. Retrieved 2015-02-07.
  5. ^ "Balsamorhiza sagittata". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 2015-02-07.
  6. ^ a b "Arrow Leafed Balsamroot Wildflower". Archived from the original on 2012-12-23. Retrieved 2012-11-27.
  7. ^ Klinkenberg, Brian (Editor) (2014). "Balsamorhiza sagittata". E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia []. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Retrieved 2015-02-07.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Giblin, David (Editor) (2015). "Balsamorhiza sagittata". WTU Herbarium Image Collection. Burke Museum, University of Washington. Retrieved 2015-02-07.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Keil, David J. (2012). "Balsamorhiza sagittata". In Jepson Flora Project (ed.). Jepson eFlora. The Jepson Herbarium, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2015-02-07. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Weber, William A. (2006). "Balsamorhiza sagittata". In Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed.). Flora of North America North of Mexico (FNA). 21. New York and Oxford – via, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
  11. ^ a b McWilliams, Jack (2002). "Balsamorhiza sagittata". Fire Effects Information System (FEIS). US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Forest Service (USFS), Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory – via
  12. ^ Fagan, Damian (2019). Wildflowers of Oregon: A Field Guide to Over 400 Wildflowers, Trees, and Shrubs of the Coast, Cascades, and High Desert. Guilford, CT: FalconGuides. p. 104. ISBN 1-4930-3633-5. OCLC 1073035766.
  13. ^ Lyons, C. P. (1956). Trees, Shrubs and Flowers to Know in Washington (1st ed.). Canada: J. M. Dent & Sons. pp. 148, 196.
  14. ^ Vizgirdas, Ray (2006). Wild Plants of the Sierra Nevada. Reno: University of Nevada, Reno. p. 185.
  15. ^ a b Nyerges, Christopher (2017). Foraging Washington: Finding, Identifying, and Preparing Edible Wild Foods. Guilford, CT: Falcon Guides. ISBN 978-1-4930-2534-3. OCLC 965922681.
  16. ^ University of Michigan - Dearborn, Native American Ethnobotany: Balsamorhiza sagittata
  17. ^ Moerman, Daniel (2010). Native American Food Plants: An Ethnobotanical Dictionary. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press. pp. 62–63.
  18. ^ "Visual identity & logo request". City of Kelowna. 2016-05-19. Retrieved 2019-05-18.

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