Arrowleaf Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata)

Clumps of yellow flowers cover a field with blurred mountains in the background

Arrowleaf Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata

Arrowleaf Balsamroot is abundant here at the UW-NPS Research Station during the months of May through July. Their leaves are distinct compared to the Mule’s ear plant (Wyethia sp.), which is commonly misidentified. Arrowleaf Balsamroot have arrow shaped leaves, hence the common name, and are also fuzzy and matte-looking, with shiny leaves. Arrowleaf Balsamroot also grows in clumps, with several flower heads blooming from the clump. 

This beautiful sunflower is a food source for not only pollinators, but also some of our larger ungulates, including elk, sheep and deer. Native Americans also used much of the plant for medicinal purposes. The roots were used to help with insect bites, headaches and coughs, and the seeds were typically eaten as well for nutrition. As you can see, Arrowleaf Balsamroot serves a large audience, from tiny sweat bees to human beings. 

Written by Anna Cressman
PC: Anna Cressman