Arrowleaf Balsamroot, Balsamorhiza saggitatta, is my nominee for the title ‘Queen of the Foothills’. Its big, happy flowers are one of the first treats of the wildflower season. The blooms arise from a massive taproot that can extend 6’ into the ground. This huge root, plus stems and seeds, were all used for food and medicine by many native peoples. Many, if not most, native plants thrive only in restricted elevation ranges. Not Balsamroot! Given full sun and relatively dry soil, this plant grows cheerfully from the lowest to the highest elevations in our foothills. So for flower lovers, the Balsamroot season stretches out as we follow the movement of spring up the mountain. The downside of Balsamroot is that it refuses to grow for any length of time in a pot. Apparently, its gigantic taproot will not tolerate such a restriction. So—no Balsamroot at the nursery! You can collect seed in about a month, direct sow it into the ground and wait patiently for nature to take its course.
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