Montana Outdoors

May 6, 2008

Arrowleaf Balsamroot

Filed under: Flowers, Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Photos, Pictures, Wildflowers — Tags: — montucky @ 9:58 pm

This large plant (Balsamorhiza sagittata) of the Sunflower family has begun to bloom now in our valley and will fill our mountainsides with color. Just a few have blossomed so far in our back yard, but when they all do the whole hillside behind our house will be orange.

This is an edible plant with large roots that can be eaten raw or cooked, edible stems and leaves, and seeds that can be roasted and ground into a nutritious flour. If basic survival were an issue for someone stranded in the back country around here, the Arrowleaf would be a plentiful solution. Its distribution is limited to the twelve western-most states though.

Arrowleaf balsamroot

Arrowleaf Balsamroot

Arrowleaf balsamroot


  1. The first photo is really lovely! I love Arrowleaf Balsamroot – it’s quite common in the Sierra Nevada mountains in eastern California, and not uncommon elsewhere. That’s very interesting about its edibility – I didn’t know that.

    Do you also have Mule’s Ear Sunflowers? They’re quiet similar to Arrowleaf Balsamroot, except that their leaves are not arrow-shaped.


    Comment by Adam R. Paul — May 7, 2008 @ 7:59 am

  2. Yes, we do have Mule’s Ears. I haven’t seen them this year yet though.


    Comment by montucky — May 7, 2008 @ 8:15 am

  3. that is good information! I have heard of arrowroot, is that the same? I remember once my daughter grew a sunflower. It got so tall!


    Comment by silken — May 7, 2008 @ 9:03 am

  4. There are quite a few plants with arrowleaf in their names but I don’t know much about the others. These are of the sunflower family, but grow only a foot and a half or so tall. They are very prolific though and produce lots of flowers and lots of plants. When they get in full bloom I’ll post photos of the whole plant and a whole hillside.


    Comment by montucky — May 7, 2008 @ 9:51 am

  5. I can only imagine how these look when they cover an entire hillside. Thanks for the informative post.


    Comment by scienceguy288 — May 7, 2008 @ 1:48 pm

  6. What gorgeous flowers! I can see their resemblance to the sunflower … will you be taking a photo when that hillside behind your home is in full bloom? I’d love to see that, it must be beautiful!


    Comment by Janet Wilkins — May 7, 2008 @ 1:52 pm

  7. Great post and gorgeous images… I dunno if you saw the movie “a walk into the wild” about the poor kid who died in Alaska. (Off tangent I know…) but I was amazed… I’m like wait.. there are plants all around you. Meanwhile, the poor kid ends up eating one that poisonous… while so many (like these) can be so freely eaten. Hey, if we ever get lost in the woods I have a feeling we’ll do okay. 😉 As a matter of fact with all the info we have we’d probably be able to offer the western version of the pilgrims table.


    Comment by aullori — May 7, 2008 @ 2:39 pm

  8. I’ve had the flour – it’s a little heavier than wheat but I like it. Montucky, is the first photo about the actual size of the flower. Must be amazing to see a carpet of those.

    (And Montucky and Aullori, if I ever get a call to go on one of those survivor shows – highly unlikely since I don’t even have TV, ha! – you two are welcome to come with me. 🙂 )


    Comment by Bo — May 7, 2008 @ 3:26 pm

  9. Janet and Scienceguy,

    I’ll take some photos when our hillside really comes alive and also another area I know of that really turns orange.


    Comment by montucky — May 7, 2008 @ 7:01 pm

  10. Lori,

    No I didn’t see the movie, but I know what you mean. There is a lot available out there to eat and the ones who really knew how to harvest it were the old Indians. I’ve always envied that knowledge and ability!


    Comment by montucky — May 7, 2008 @ 7:04 pm

  11. Bo,

    I went out and measured it: 3.5 inches, which is about usual. I would guess that a whole hillside of these would feed a large group of people.


    Comment by montucky — May 7, 2008 @ 7:07 pm

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