Balsamorhiza sagittata
(Arrowleaf Balsamroot)
[(Pursh) Nutt.]

Subclass: Asteridae
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Family Description: Aster (Sunflower)

Key Characteristics:
The entire plant has a grayish appearance due to a covering of a felt-like tomentum of short trichomes. The long petioles terminating in a wooly triangular, sagittate leaf blade are good identifying characters.
  • long-petiolate with triangular, cordate-sagittate, entire, tomentose-puberulent to densely strigose-puberulent blades up to 30 cm long.
  • The flower 2-5 dm tall stems are scapiform, naked of leaves except for an occasional bract.
  • The terminus of the scape and the involucre are lanate-tomentose.
  • The showy heads have yellow rays 2.5-4 cm long.
  • The involucral bracts are in 2-4 series.
  • The achenes are surrounded by clasping bracts, thus chaffy.
  • The disc flowers are light yellow.
  • The achenes are somewhat quadrangular.
  • There is no pappus.

General Description:
This large-leaved spring flowering, showy plant is commonly found anywhere Big Sage grows. Larger plants have many heart-shaped, long petioled, basal, gray green, hairy leaves and numerous flower stalks. It usually grows at lower elevations than Mule's Ears. Arrowleaf balsamroot has naked or one bracted flower stems while Mule's Ears has leafy flower stems. The flower heads are very similar for the two species.

Similar Species:
Mule's Ears.

Lowlands to mid elevations in mountains from southern British Columbia to southern California east tp Montana, the Black Hills of South Dakota and Colorado.

Open hillsides and flat lands, usually in deep soils in valleys and up to moderate elevations in the mountains.

The above ground parts contain flavonoids, 6-hydroxy-kaempferol, 7-methyl-ether, and the root resins contain terebinthine , inulin, heterotetragylcans and conjugated caffeic acids. It is used as a disinfectant-expectorant, for sore throats, and pulmonary disorders. Powdered leaves can be used as a poultice on mild burns, skin sores and ulcerations and skin infections. It is also reported to be an immunostimulant, thus increasing white blood cell activity.
   The two to 4 foot long taproots were used as an emergency food by the Native Americans. The seeds can be dried, roasted eaten whole or ground (including the shell) and added to pancakes, muffins, breads and cereals.

Important State References:
No information available at this time.
Photos & Information written by Dr. Karl E. Holte,© 2002