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Hooker's balsamroot

Scientific Name: 
Balsamorhiza hookeri
Family: 
Genus: 
Native Name(s): 
Northern Paiute: bikwa'ida (Kelly 1932); piquid (Fowler 1989); kusiaki (Couture et al. 1986); huba (Fowler 1989); key-gah-da-goop (Train et al. 1957:32-33)
Pit River: tamtiye (Garth 1953)
Slideshow: 
Description: 

Plant

Balsamorhiza hookeri is a perennial herb. It usually has a  densely hair stem that can become glabrous with age. The basal leaves are up to 30 cm long and are deeply, pinnately divided into segments. The inflorescences  are 5 to 7 cm wide, yellow, and sunflower-like. This species blooms from May to July.

Identification Tips

Balsamorhiza hookeri can be distinguished from its close relative Balsamorhiza sagittata by its leaf shape and habitat. B. hookeri has pinnate leaves and grows in rocky habitats, whereas B. sagittata has sagittate, hairy leaves and prefers deeper soils.

Starch granules

Starch granule analysis in progress.

Habitat: 

Balsamorhiza hookeri grows at elevations from 1300 to 1800 m along dry slopes and valleys.

Distribution: 

This species grows in California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Utah and Idaho.

Additional Common Name(s): 
cutleaf balsamroot
cutleaf sunflower
hairy balsamroot
Ethnography: 
The seeds of Balsamorhiza hookeri could be ground into a flour and consumed. The roots could be eaten raw, dried, ground into flour or used in a soup to help with issues concerning the stomach or bladder. 
 
As food
Northern Paiute: "[In regards to mid-July] Fruit collected at this time included squaw currant, golden currant, hawthorn ("blackberries"), and rose hips.  Mule's ears and balsamroot were among the first seeds to ripen, with tumbling mustard (an introduced plant) ripening later." (Couture et al. 1986:153-154) 
 
Northern Paiute: "A number of wild plant species are tolerated, encouraged, or even transplanted to yards and fields on the reservation...Those encouraged or tolerated include willow, red-osier dogwood, balsamroot, blazing star, giant wild rye, juniper, bulrush, cattail, biscuitroot, and wild onion." (Couture et al. 1986:157) 
 
Pit River: "Sunflowers of at least five varieties were used: iwitsĭnyami (Balsamorhiza sagittata); tamtiye (B. hookeri); uitsĭnyami (B. deltoidea); and axéĭki, gicwi, and kasnatchwup (these three unidentified).  Seeds were gathered in July by beating them into a burden basket with a seed beater.  They were parched in a flat tray (tĭpwĭróhi) and then put into a shallow basket and the skins removed by abrasion against the side of the basket with a rock.  After the seeds were winnowed and ground with the mano-metate, they were ready to be eaten.  The flour might be molded into cakes the size of a biscuit, which were eaten without cooking.  Sunflowers were formerly plentiful on mountain slopes, especially in burned over areas.  A burden basketful of seeds was said to be  good day's harvest for one woman.  The gathering might last two weeks." (Garth 1953:139) 
 
As medicine
Northern Paiute: "This is considered to be an especially good medicine by the Indians.  From the boiled root is secured a solution that looks like a thin yellow soup.  This is used internally for severe stomach and bladder troubles." (Train et al. 1957:32-33) 
Distribution Map: 
Color: