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Arrowleaf Balsamroot

Scientific Name:

Balsamorhiza sagittata


Herbaceous Plant


Open sandy plains & forest openings at elevations between 4,000 and 8,000 feet


Western North America from Alberta and British Columbia, east to the Dakotas and south to Colorado and Arizona.


Secure (NatureServe)

This species is


to the Truckee Meadows.


These spring-flowering, bright yellow sunflowers are best identified by their leaves. Arrowleaf balsamroots have arrow-shaped (or heart shaped) leaves; the leaves are triangular in shape with 2 lobes at the base of each leaf. The leaves are green in color, and they have fine short hairs but do not look furry like the leaves of mule ears, plants which bloom around the same time. The yellow flowerhead is 2 to 4 inches across.

Fast Facts:

  • Arrowleaf balsamroot plants have an impressive root system; their tap root can be over 8 feet long and up to 4 inches in diameter and their lateral roots can travel horizontally for 2 to 3 feet.  This extensive root system helps the plant survive fires, droughts, grazing and trampling.

  • The Paiute people and other tribes used arrowleaf balsamroot seeds in a variety of ways; were eaten raw, ground into flour for making cakes, used for cooking oil, or mixed with other foods.

  • Arrowleaf balsamroot is attractive to native pollinators. Its seeds are eaten by birds and rodents.

  • Here in the Truckee Meadows, arrowleaf balsamroot can be found on the hills around Reno in places like Galena Creek Regional Park.



Emma Wynn (research, content, and photos)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

May 12, 2021 at 6:16:30 PM

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