About Arrowleaf Balsamroot: Native to the deserts and mountains of western United States, Arrowleaf Balsamroot is a spring blooming member of the sunflower family. Its deep taproot enables this plant to survive fire, drought, and grazing. Animals of the mountains and prairies such as deer, elk, pronghorn, and sheep love to feed on its foliage. This plant also has a history of extensive medicinal and culinary use, primarily by Native Americans. Captain Lewis gathered the first Arrowleaf Balsamroot specimen on July 7, 1806 as he and the Lewis and Clark expedition traveled along Montana’s Blackfoot River. The plant’s Latin name of “Balsamorhiza” is derived from its strongly balsam scented root, while “sagittata” refers to Sagittarius, the constellation of the archer.
Arrowleaf Balsamroot Germination: Since this plant does not take transplanting well, it should be direct sown. In late fall, plant the seed ˝” deep in full sun and well drained soil. Sow rather thickly, since germination rates will be naturally low; seeds should sprout within 6-10 days. For spring planting, stratify by mixing the seed with moist sand and storing in the refrigerator for 6-8 weeks; direct sow.
Growing Arrowleaf Balsamroot Seeds: Keep seedlings free from weeds, and water occasionally in dry weather. This plant develops rather slowly, but lasts for generations once established. Flowers may not appear until the second or third season of growth. After flowering, the plant will go dormant and turn brown until spring. If the winter soil is too wet, the roots may rot. This plant attracts bees and butterflies, and can be used for erosion control.
Harvesting Arrowleaf Balsamroot: For fresh flowers, cut the stems long and place them in water immediately. Roots can be harvested for herbal or medicinal use in the fall or spring.
Saving Arrowleaf Balsamroot Seeds: Watch the ripening seed heads carefully, since small birds and rodents often eat it as soon as it matures. The seed heads turn brown when ripe, and should be removed before they shatter. Rub the dried seed heads lightly to separate the seed from the husks. Store the seed in the refrigerator until planting.
Detailed Arrowleaf Balsamroot Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Arrow-leaved balsamroot, Oregon Sunflower Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Spring-Early Summer Height: 18-24 inches Spacing: 18-24 inches Light: Full Sun Soil Moisture: Medium USDA Zone: 3a-9b Seeds Per Oz: 2,700 Produces a plant with 10-12” silvery, arrow shaped leaves at the base, and stems of 3-4” yellow daisy-like flowers with large orange centers.