The Great Rocky Mountain Nature Factbook


Arrowleaf Balsamroot

Arrowleaf Balsamroot sweeps over dry hillsides like a yellow tide. Known in some areas as sunflower, the 2- to 3-inch, yellow flower blooms in early spring and can be up to 2 feet tall. Foot-long, arrow-shaped leaves covered with silvery-gray fuzz grow from near the base.

Look for large patches of Balsamorhiza sagittata in dry valleys and foothills and in the mountains to about 8,000 feet.

Some Native peoples peeled the immature flower stems and ate the inner portion like celery. Flathead Indians made use of the woody roots, baking them in fire pits for at least 3 days, like camas. Nez Perce people roasted and ground the seeds, which they mixed with animal fat and rolled into little balls.

The leaves could be used in poultices for burns, and root poultices were applied to treat cuts and bruises.

Elk and deer graze shoots, and bighorn sheep favor the leaves and flowers. Horses also eat the flowers. Sturdy plant that it is, arrowleaf balsamroot can withstand heavy grazing.

Selected Works

Children's Books
A rollicking romp of raven hijinks.
A humorous rhyming revue of 15 northern animals.
Nonfiction
A guide to the remarkable animals, plants, and natural features of the northern Rocky Mountains.
A guide to the remarkable animals, plants, and natural features of Alaska.
Seasonal excursions of wildlife discovery