Balsamorhiza sagittata (Pursh) Nutt.
Arrowleaf Balsamroot, Arrow-leaf Balsamroot
Asteraceae (Aster Family)
USDA Symbol: BASA3
This perennialís large, silvery "arrowhead" to heart-shaped leaves, 6 in. wide and 12 in. long, form impressive tufts. A woody taproot gives rise to several 8-24 in. stems, each usually bearing a solitary, 2 1/2-4 in. wide, yellow, sunflower-like flower. An almost leafless stalk with 1 large bright yellow flower head at tip grows from a basal cluster of large silvery-gray leaves covered with felt-like hairs.
Indians prepared medicine from the roots. The very similar Deltoid Balsam Root (B. deltoidea), found in open places in California, western Oregon, and Washington, is only sparsely hairy, is much greener, and drops its rays soon after flowering. Several species of Balsamorhiza have pinnately divided leaves.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Size Notes: Up to about 2 feet tall.
Fruit: Fruit is a cypsela (pl. cypselae). Though technically incorrect, the fruit is often referred to as an achene.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul
Bloom Notes: Flower heads are usually borne singly, sometimes 2 to 3+.
DistributionUSA: AZ , CA , CO , ID , MT , ND , NV , OR , SD , UT , WA , WY
Canada: AB , BC
Native Distribution: S. B.C. to MT, s., e. of the Cascades, to CA & NM; also Black Hills
Native Habitat: Sandy plains & forest openings; 4000-8000 ft.
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Deep, sandy or gravelly soils.
BenefitUse Food: Native Americans used to eat the starchy roots, seeds, and tender young shoots.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Value to Beneficial InsectsSpecial Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Bumble Bees
This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
PropagationDescription: The plant takes poorly to transplanting, thus seeds should be used for propagation.
Seed Treatment: Seeds require prolonged cool-moist stratification and then incubation at cold temperatures for germination.
Commercially Avail: yes
Find Seed or Plants
Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
BibliographyBibref 1218 - Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources (2006) Anderson, M. Kat
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Balsamorhiza sagittata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Balsamorhiza sagittata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Balsamorhiza sagittata
MetadataRecord Modified: 2022-12-08
Research By: TWC Staff