PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Fernleaf Biscuitroot (Lomatium dissectum)

Biscuit roots are a group of plants in the carrot family and are native throughout the west and northwestern parts of North America. Fernleaf Biscuitroot is the species specific to the PNW west of the Cascades. It has been used and revered by the original people of this area for food, medicine, and ceremony. It is a very powerful plant in all these aspects and one that deserves a place in any PNW garden.

It forms a 2 foot high mound of bright green, lacy, fern-like foliage which, all by itself, is a lovely texture in a garden. By mid spring stems rise another foot taller and unfold to an umbel (think umbrella) of cheerful yellow blooms. The open flowers are massively attractive to all flying pollinators and are specifically the host plant to swallowtail butterflies. As the yellow flowers age to seeds the umbel takes on an eggplant purple color. The plant is amazingly versatile and grows happily in sunny, dry, poor soil or in moist soil rich in organic matter with only filtered light.

The original people of this area used the root for respiratory infections and digestive complaints. The seeds are also therapeutic. The leaves have a distinct celery flavor. Recent research has found that the root has very strong antiviral effects and is also anti-bacterial. Other traditional uses include the root in field medicine for various wounds. It’s a beautiful healer.