Lomatium orientale (Northern Idaho Biscuitroot)
|Also known as:||Oriental Desert Parsley, Salt-and-Pepper|
|Habitat:||sun; open, dry prairie and rock outcrops|
|Bloom season:||April - May|
|Plant height:||4 to 8 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flat to rounded compound clusters (umbels) up to 1½ inches across on a stalk up to 5 inches long that arises from a leaf axil. Flowers are less than 1/8-inch across with 5 white or pinkish petals that are tightly curled in to the center. 5 long stamens tipped with white to deep pink anthers protrude from the center. An umbel is made up of 12 to 16 (or more) smaller clusters (umbellets), each densely packed with up to 30 flowers. One plant can have many (+15) clusters.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are mostly basal, sometimes alternate on a short stem. Leaves are broadly triangular to lanced shaped in outline, up to 4 inches long by 3 inches wide, 3 times compound into feathery segments creating a lacy, fern-like appearance. The base of the leaf stalk sheathes the stem. Surfaces have fine, soft hairs giving the foliage a silvery green color. Stems are short, branch out from the base, spreading to erect and, along with the flower stalk, covered in fine soft hairs and commonly tinged reddish.
While not a listed species in Minnesota, Biscuitroot is by no means common as it is found only on dry western prairie habitats. These have diminished greatly in both quantity and quality due to agriculture and fire suppression respectively. Where this species is found, it is often missed due to its very early flowering period, after which it quickly sets seed and goes dormant for the season, well before most hikers and plant explorers are out and about in the field.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Morton Outcrop SNA, Renville County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken at Morton Outcrop SNA and at Yellow Bank Hills SNA, Lac Qui Parle County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?