Arrowleaf Balsamroot

March 31, 2023

By Pat Loomis, Conservancy Volunteer

Find a recipe for Rimrock to Riverside healing balm by clicking the image above. PC: Angela Roth

Get ready for a profusion of yellow sunflowers blooming all over our area.  The Arrowleaf Balsamroot is actually a flowering perennial in the sunflower tribe of the aster family.  A beautiful harbinger of spring!

A specimen was collected by explorer and botanist Meriwether Lewis in 1806, but was widely used by the Native Americans as food and medicine.  The entire plant can be eaten!  The leaves are best collected when young and have a citrus flavor. The roots can be boiled and have a bitter, pine-like taste. Many indigenous tribes such as the Nez Perce, Kootenai, Cheyanne, and Salish used the plant as food and medicine.  The nutritious seeds were used as food and oil.

The balsam portion of the name refers to the resin in the root.  The root was made into a tea to treat TB and whooping cough.  The leaves can be used to relieve burns, wounds and bruises.  

A wide variety of wildlife utilize the Arrowleaf Balsamroot.  Deer, elk, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn eat the leaves, stems, and flowers.  This beautiful spring perennial is not only beautiful but so useful in our local environment.