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Before consuming wild plants, contact your doctor to make sure it is safe, and make positive identification in the field using a good source such as Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West also contains a glossary of medical terms, maps, and drawings as do all of Michael Moore’s books.)
#39
Common Name Balsam Root
Latin Name: Balsamorhiza deltoidea, B. hookeri, B. incana, B. sagittata
Family: Asteraceae or Compositae
 
39(a)
Common Name: Deltoid Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza deltoidea)
Appearance and Habitat: A plant of woodland openings and open hillsides from California north to British Columbia, where it is listed as an endangered species due to habitat destruction and is found only on the southern shore of Vancouver Island. It does best where fires occur rather regularly; modern suppression of fire has reduced favorable habitat for it. (1) Open places but not on thin soil in Western N. America – British Columbia to California.  A perennial growing to 0.6 m (2ft).  It is hardy to zone 5. It is in flower from May to June. (2)
 
Warnings: none (3)
Edible Uses: Root – raw or cooked. A sweet taste when cooked. Young shoots – raw. Seed – raw or cooked. It can be ground into a powder and made into a bread. The ground seeds can be formed into cakes and eaten raw. The roasted root is a coffee substitute. (4)
Medicinal Uses: A decoction of the split roots has been used in the treatment of coughs and colds. (5)
Foot Notes: (2, 3, 4, 5)
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39(b)
Common Name: Hairy Balsamroot, Hooker’s Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza hookeri )  
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=BAHO all states west of the Rocky Mountains excluding New Mexico
Appearance and Habitat: The leaves of this species are deeply segmented, appearing in basal tufts from a woody taproot  with the 4-12 in., leafless flowering stems. These bear solitary,  2-3 in. wide, yellow sunflower-like flowers. (1)  Dry rock out crops in foothills and lowlands in Western and Central N. America.  A perennial growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in).  It is hardy to zone 5. It is in flower from May to June. (2)
Warnings: None (3)
Edible Uses:Root – raw or cooked. A sweet and agreeable taste when cooked. Seed – raw or cooked. It can be ground into a powder and formed into cakes for eating raw or made into a bread. (4)
Medicinal Uses: A decoction of the root has been used for stomach problems, bladder complaints and female complaints. The sub-species B. hookeri hirsuta has been specified for these uses. (5)
Foot Notes: (2, 3, 4, 5)
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39(c)
Common Name: Hoary Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza incana )  
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=BAIN Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming
Appearance and Habitat: Meadows and other moderately moist to moderately dry open places in North-western N. America.  A perennial  growing to 0.9 m (3ft).  It is hardy to zone 5. It is in flower in July.
Warnings: None
Edible Uses: Root – raw or cooked. The thick root can be eaten raw. Seed – raw or cooked. It can be ground into a powder and made into a bread.
Medicinal Uses: A decoction of the leaves, roots and stems has been used in the treatment of stomach pains and colds and as a steam bath for treating headaches
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39(d)
Common Name: Arrowleaf Balsamroot, Oregon Sunflower ( Balsamorhiza sagittata )
Native American Names: Ah Kerh (Shoshone), Sugilatse (Washoe), Pava ah’ kerh (Paiute) (1)
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=BASA3 all states west of the Rocky Mountains (excluding New Mexico) plus N. and S. Dakota and Kansas.
Appearance and Habitat: This perennial’s large, silvery arrowhead to heart-shaped leaves, 6 in. wide and 12 in. long, form impressive tufts. A woody taproot  gives rise to several 8-24 in. stems, each bearing asolitary,  2 1/2-4 in. wide, yellow, sunflower-like flower. An almost leafless stalk with 1 large bright yellow flower head  at tip grows from a basal cluster of large silvery-gray leaves covered with felt-like hairs. Indians prepared medicine from the roots. The very similar Deltoid Balsam Root (B. deltoidea), found in open places in California, western Oregon, and Washington, is only sparsely hairy, is much greener, and drops its rays soon after flowering. Several species of Balsamorhiza have pinnately divided leaves. (2) Open hillsides and flat land up to moderate elevations, especially on deep soil in Western N. America – South Dakota to British Columbia, south to California and Colorado.  A perennial growing to 0.3 m (1ft).  It is hardy to zone 5. It is in flower in July. (3)
Warnings: None (4)
Edible Uses: Root – raw or cooked. The root has a thick crown that is edible raw. Roots have a sweet taste when cooked. A long slow baking is best, the Flathead Indians would bake them in a fire pit for at least 3 days. The roots are resinous and woody with a taste like balsam. Young shoots – raw or cooked. Added to salads or used as a potherb. The large leaves and petioles are boiled and eaten. When eaten in large quantities they act like sleeping pills to cause sleepiness. The young flowering stem can be peeled and eaten raw like celery. Seed – raw or cooked. A highly prized source of food. It can be roasted, ground into a powder and used with cereals when making bread. The raw seed can also be ground into a powder then formed into cakes and eaten without cooking. The seed is rich in oil. Oil. The seed was a prized source of oil for many native North Americans. The roasted root is a coffee substitute. (5)  Among cereals made for plant seeds, that made from Balsam root is very tasty. Ripe seeds are spread on the ground, fire is dropped among them, and stirred around with a stick.  The fire will go out and only the seeds will be left.  These are put in a willow baset -sieve, and charcoal is sifted out. Then the seeds are put in a flat basket, and shaken and blown, and everything but the seeds is carried away.  Then the seed is ground.  The meal is stirred into boiling water, made into mush.  This will have a toasted or popcorn flavor.  Paiutes use gum from the root of Arrow-leaved Balsamroot sunflower. (6) 
Medicinal Uses: 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. It is little used in modern herbalism. The root is antirheumatic, diuretic, cathartic, diaphoretic, febrifuge and vulnerary. An infusion of the leaves, roots and stems has been used as a treatment for stomach pains, colds, whooping cough, TB, fevers and headaches. A decoction of the root has been taken at the beginning of labour to insure easy delivery. 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. The smoke from the root has been inhaled as a remedy for body aches such as rheumatism. The root is chewed or pounded and used as a paste on wounds, blisters, bites, swellings and sores. A poultice made from the coarse, large leaves has been used to treat severe burns. An infusion of the leaves has been used as a wash for poison ivy rash and running sores. The seeds have been eaten as a treatment for dysentery. (7)
Foot Notes: (1, 6) Indian Uses Of Native Plants by Edith Van Allen Murphy, pages 26, 56;publisher Meyerbooks, copyright 1990, ISBN 0-916638-15-4
(Personally, I think the way the map is colored in the photos that this does exist in New Mexico)
Reproduced, in part, (as well as previous postings under this title) in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and is for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.
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