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Edible uses


Root - raw or cooked[1][2][3][4][5]. The root has a thick crown that is edible raw[6]. Roots have a sweet taste when cooked[7][8]. A long slow baking is best, the Flathead Indians would bake them in a fire pit for at least 3 days[8]. The roots are resinous and woody with a taste like balsam[9].

Young shoots - raw or cooked[4][5]. Added to salads or used as a potherb[8]. The large leaves and petioles are boiled and eaten[10]. When eaten in large quantities they act like sleeping pills to cause sleepiness[5]. The young flowering stem can be peeled and eaten raw like celery[8][5]. Seed - raw or cooked[7][11][12][4]. A highly prized source of food[5]. It can be roasted, ground into a powder and used with cereals when making bread[8][5]. The raw seed can also be ground into a powder then formed into cakes and eaten without cooking[5]. The seed is rich in oil[6]. Oil. The seed was a prized source of oil for many native North Americans[5].

The roasted root is a coffee substitute[13][8].

Unknown part


Material uses

The large hairy leaves are used as an insulation in shoes to keep the feet warm[14]. An infusion of the root has been rubbed into the scalp to promote hair growth[5].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Oregon sunflower was quite widely employed as a medicinal herb by various native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints, but especially stomach problems[5]. It is little used in modern herbalism.

The root is antirheumatic, diuretic, cathartic, diaphoretic, febrifuge and vulnerary[11][5]. An infusion of the leaves, roots and stems has been used as a treatment for stomach pains, colds, whooping cough, TB, fevers and headaches[5]. A decoction of the root has been taken at the beginning of labour to insure easy delivery[5]. The juice from the chewed root is allowed to trickle down the throat to treat sore mouths and throats whilst the root has also been chewed to treat toothaches[5]. The smoke from the root has been inhaled as a remedy for body aches such as rheumatism[5]. The root is chewed or pounded and used as a paste on wounds, blisters, bites, swellings and sores[10][5]. A poultice made from the coarse, large leaves has been used to treat severe burns[5]. An infusion of the leaves has been used as a wash for poison ivy rash and running sores[5].

The seeds have been eaten as a treatment for dysentery[5].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - sow early spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Germination usually takes place within 2 - 6 days at 18°c. Either sow the seed in individual pots or pot up the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer[15]. Division in spring. Very difficult since the plant strongly resents root disturbance[15]. It is probably best to take quite small divisions, or basal cuttings, without disturbing the main clump. Pot these up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in the greenhouse until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the summer if they have grown sufficiently, otherwise over-winter them in the greenhouse and plant out in late spring.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Balsamorhiza sagittata. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Requires a deep fertile well-drained loam in full sun[15][16]. Plants strongly resent winter wet[15][16].

Hardy to at least -25°c[16].

Plants are intolerant of root disturbance and should be planted into their permanent positions whilst still small[15]. They withstand heavy grazing in the wild[9].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Balsamorhiza sagittata. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Balsamorhiza sagittata.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Balsamorhiza sagittata
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type

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    1. ? 1.01.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    2. ? 2.02.1 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
    3. ? 3.03.1 Coon. N. The Dictionary of Useful Plants. Rodale Press ISBN 0-87857-090-x (1975-00-00)
    4. ? Yanovsky. E. Food Plants of the N. American Indians. Publication no. 237. U.S. Depf of Agriculture. ()
    5. ? Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
    6. ? Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food. Ballantine Books ISBN 0-449-90589-6 (1980-00-00)
    7. ? Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
    8. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    9. ? Craighead. J., Craighead. F. and Davis. R. A Field Guide to Rocky Mountain Wildflowers The Riverside Press ISBN 63-7093 (1963-00-00)
    10. ? Coffey. T. The History and Folklore of North American Wild Flowers. Facts on File. ISBN 0-8160-2624-6 (1993-00-00)
    11. ? Sweet. M. Common Edible and Useful Plants of the West. Naturegraph Co. ISBN 0-911010-54-8 (1962-00-00)
    12. ? 12.012.1 Turner. N. J. and Szczawinski. A. Edible Wild Fruits and Nuts of Canada. National Museum of Natural Sciences (1978-00-00)
    13. ? 13.013.1 Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption. Koeltz Scientific Books ISBN 3874292169 (1984-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.1 Turner. N. J. Plants in British Columbian Indian Technology. British Columbia Provincial Museum ISBN 0-7718-8117-7 (1979-00-00)
    15. ? Rice. G. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 2. Thompson and Morgan. (1988-00-00)
    16. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    17. ? Hitchcock. C. L. Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press (1955-00-00)

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