Barestem Biscuitroot – Lomatium nudicaule
Lomatiums are among the diverse suite of wildflowers that bloom in the Boise Foothills each spring. Commonly known as biscuitroot or desert parsley, Lomatium is a genus consisting of around 75 species, all of which are found in western North America. There are several species native to our region; the most common include Lomatium dissectum (fernleaf biscuitroot), Lomatium grayi (Gray’s biscuitroot), Lomatium triternatum (nineleaf biscuitroot), and Lomatium nudicaule (barestem biscuitroot).
Lomatium is in the carrot family (Apiaceae) and produces familiar, umbrella-shaped clusters of small flowers, similar in appearance to the flowers of dill, fennel, and other carrot relatives. The leaves of most lomatiums are finely divided and fern-like. Lomatium survives our hot, dry summers by developing large, fleshy taproots. They emerge early in the spring, produce flowers and fruits, and then die back. They spend most of their lives underground. The starchy taproots are edible and were regularly consumed by Native Americans.
A healthy population of barestem biscuitroot can be seen blooming now at the top of our Wilderness Trail. This species is unique among lomatiums due to its broad, paddle-shaped leaves. Look closely at the leaves and you will notice a fine reddish line running along the outer edge.
For more Lomatium viewing, visit our Lewis and Clark Native Plant Garden where you will find fernleaf biscuitroot and nineleaf biscuitroot in abundance along with lots of other spring flowering native plants.
Written by IBG horticulturist, Daniel Murphy.