Balsamroot is a relative of the sunflower. Its leaves are coarse and arrow-shaped, and a single plant can have many yellow flowers.
RANGE & HABITAT
Balsamroot grows from B.C. and Alberta to California in plains and valleys and to elevations of 2,700 metres.
It may take five to ten years to establish but when it does it grows well with other kinds of plants.
Balsamroot is food for a variety of livestock, like sheep, cattle, horses and wildlife like mice and deer. It also acts as a cover for small mammals and birds, especially grouse.
TRADITIONAL FIRST NATIONS USES
This plant is, and was, used for numerous things because most of the plant is edible and high in fibre and energy content. The leaves were eaten, raw or cooked and the seeds were roasted or ground into flour. The roots contain an immune-stimulating substance and a sap used for disinfectant. The roots were often burned, using the smoke to cure headaches or fumigate rooms.
It is important for the grazing of domestic livestock. It is also used to plant on damaged or disturbed hills and creek banks.
COSEWIC: Not at Risk
Photo: Vicky Husband