** 2016 Appeal ** In order to extend our coverage of climate zones, we’ve identified around 700 plants to add to our database. To do this properly and at the same time improve the usability of our website we need extra funds in addition to our regular level of income. more >>

   Bookmark and Share
    By donating to PFAF, you can help support and expand our activities
    Plant Suppliers: Click here for a List
Balsamorhiza sagittata - (Pursh.)Nutt.                
Common Name Oregon Sunflower, Arrowleaf balsamroot
Family Asteraceae or Compositae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Open hillsides and flat land up to moderate elevations, especially on deep soils[60].
Range Western N. America - South Dakota to British Columbia, south to California and Colorado.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun


Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Balsamorhiza sagittata is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. It is in flower in July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Synonyms Bupthalmium sagitattum.
Balsamorhiza sagittata Oregon Sunflower, Arrowleaf balsamroot

Balsamorhiza sagittata Oregon Sunflower, Arrowleaf balsamroot
 Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Root;  Seed;  Stem.
Edible Uses: Coffee.

Root - raw or cooked[46, 61, 106, 161, 257]. The root has a thick crown that is edible raw[213]. Roots have a sweet taste when cooked[2, 183]. A long slow baking is best, the Flathead Indians would bake them in a fire pit for at least 3 days[183]. The roots are resinous and woody with a taste like balsam[212]. Young shoots - raw or cooked[161, 257]. Added to salads or used as a potherb[183]. The large leaves and petioles are boiled and eaten[207]. When eaten in large quantities they act like sleeping pills to cause sleepiness[257]. The young flowering stem can be peeled and eaten raw like celery[183, 257]. Seed - raw or cooked[2, 94, 101, 161]. A highly prized source of food[257]. It can be roasted, ground into a powder and used with cereals when making bread[183, 257]. The raw seed can also be ground into a powder then formed into cakes and eaten without cooking[257]. The seed is rich in oil[213]. Oil. The seed was a prized source of oil for many native North Americans[257]. The roasted root is a coffee substitute[177, 183].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antirheumatic;  Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  Febrifuge;  Odontalgic;  Poultice;  Skin;  Stomachic;  Vulnerary.

Oregon sunflower was quite widely employed as a medicinal herb by various native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints, but especially stomach problems[257]. It is little used in modern herbalism. The root is antirheumatic, diuretic, cathartic, diaphoretic, febrifuge and vulnerary[94, 257]. An infusion of the leaves, roots and stems has been used as a treatment for stomach pains, colds, whooping cough, TB, fevers and headaches[257]. A decoction of the root has been taken at the beginning of labour to insure easy delivery[257]. The juice from the chewed root is allowed to trickle down the throat to treat sore mouths and throats whilst the root has also been chewed to treat toothaches[257]. The smoke from the root has been inhaled as a remedy for body aches such as rheumatism[257]. The root is chewed or pounded and used as a paste on wounds, blisters, bites, swellings and sores[207, 257]. A poultice made from the coarse, large leaves has been used to treat severe burns[257]. An infusion of the leaves has been used as a wash for poison ivy rash and running sores[257]. The seeds have been eaten as a treatment for dysentery[257].
Other Uses
Hair;  Insulation.

The large hairy leaves are used as an insulation in shoes to keep the feet warm[99]. An infusion of the root has been rubbed into the scalp to promote hair growth[257].
Cultivation details                                         
Requires a deep fertile well-drained loam in full sun[134, 200]. Plants strongly resent winter wet[134, 200]. Hardy to at least -25°c[200]. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance and should be planted into their permanent positions whilst still small[134]. They withstand heavy grazing in the wild[212].
Seed - sow early spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Germination usually takes place within 2 - 6 days at 18°c. Either sow the seed in individual pots or pot up the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer[134]. Division in spring. Very difficult since the plant strongly resents root disturbance[134]. It is probably best to take quite small divisions, or basal cuttings, without disturbing the main clump. Pot these up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in the greenhouse until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the summer if they have grown sufficiently, otherwise over-winter them in the greenhouse and plant out in late spring.
Related Plants                                         
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Balsamorhiza deltoideaDeltoid Balsamroot41
Balsamorhiza hookeriBalsam Root, Hooker's balsamroot, Hairy balsamroot, Idaho balsamroot, Rabbithead balsamroot, Negle41
Balsamorhiza incanaHoary Balsamroot31
Plant Suppliers: Click here for a List

      You can download this page as a PDF

Expert comment                                         
Botanical References                                         
Links / References                                         

[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[60]Hitchcock. C. L. Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest.
A standard flora for Western N. America with lots of information on habitat etc. Five large volumes, it is not for the casual reader.
[61]Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[94]Sweet. M. Common Edible and Useful Plants of the West.
Useful wild plants in Western N. America. A pocket guide.
[99]Turner. N. J. Plants in British Columbian Indian Technology.
Excellent and readable guide.
[101]Turner. N. J. and Szczawinski. A. Edible Wild Fruits and Nuts of Canada.
A very readable guide to some wild foods of Canada.
[106]Coon. N. The Dictionary of Useful Plants.
Interesting reading but short on detail.
[134]Rice. G. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 2.
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation. An interesting article on Ensete ventricosum.
[161]Yanovsky. E. Food Plants of the N. American Indians. Publication no. 237.
A comprehensive but very terse guide. Not for the casual reader.
[177]Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption.
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[207]Coffey. T. The History and Folklore of North American Wild Flowers.
A nice read, lots of information on plant uses.
[212]Craighead. J., Craighead. F. and Davis. R. A Field Guide to Rocky Mountain Wildflowers
Excellent little pocket guide to the area, covering 590 species and often giving details of their uses.
[213]Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food.
A nice book to read though it is difficult to look up individual plants since the book is divided into separate sections dealing with the different medicinal uses plus a section on edible plants. Common names are used instead of botanical.
[257]Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.

Readers comment                                         
QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.
2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.
3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the pfaf.org website on their phone.
Rate This Plant                                         
Please rate this plants for how successful you have found it to be. You will need to be logged in to do this. Our intention is not to create a list of 'popular' plants but rather to highlight plants that may be rare and unusual and that have been found to be useful by website users. This hopefully will encourage more people to use plants that they possibly would not have considered before.
Add a comment/link                                         

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at admin@pfaf.org. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

Subject : Balsamorhiza sagittata  

Links To add a link to another website with useful info add the details here
Name of Site
URL of Site