Hooker's Balsamroot

Hooker's Balsamroot, courtesy of Gary A. Monroe @ USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

© Gary. A. Monroe, courtesy of Gary Monroe @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.   http://plants.usda.gov/

Common Name(s):

Hooker’s Balsamroot

Scientific Name:

Balsamorhiza hookeri (Hook.) Nutt.

Scientific Name Synonyms:

None Known

Symbol:

BAHO

Description:

Life Span: Perennial

Origin: Native

Growth Characteristics: Hooker’s balsamroot is often among the earliest plants to produce leaves and flowers in spring. It can grow up to 2 feet tall. It flowers mid-April through early summer, and reproduces by seed.    

Flowers: Large, yellow, and sunflower-like, mostly solitary flowers found at the end of a leafless stem. Flowers can be up to 5 inches across, with the yellow ray flowers measuring 1 ½ inches long. 

Fruits/Seeds: Fruit is an achene.          

Leaves: Hooker’s balsamroot leaves are basal, 4-12 inches long, pinnately divided, and lance shaped or oblong in outline.  

Stems: Stems are erect, ascending, and leafless.   

Roots: Hooker’s balsamroot has a thickened, woody taproot which has a pleasant (balsam) odor. 

Ecological Adaptations:

Balsamroots are often found in habitat’s consisting of open slopes and barren plateaus. Hooker’s balasamroot is found within a variety of dry woodland, shrubland, and grassland habitats where dry, open, and rocky or gravelly conditions are present, at elevations from 4500 to 7000 feet. It is strongly drought resistant, has good winter-hardiness, tolerates semi-shade, and is strongly tolerant of grazing and trampling.

Soils: Most abundant in well-drained soils, but found on gravelly to clayey soils. 

Associated Species: Big sagebrush, bluebunch wheatgrass, cheatgrass, lupine, death camas, and penstemon.

Uses and Management:

Hooker balsamroot has some forge value for livestock, at least seasonally. Cattle, horses, and domestic sheep graze the foliage lightly, and often eat the flowers. All balsamroots will increase when grazed by cattle, but decrease when grazed by sheep or deer on winter ranges. 

Traditionally, the roots were pit-cooked and eaten by the Okanagan-Coville Indians.