Northeastern California is home to several balsamroot species. These bright yellow wildflowers resemble sunflowers and often blanket hillsides with their brilliant blooms.
Hooker’s balsamroot (Balsamorhiza hookeri) is a low plant of dry, rocky (lithosol) soils and can be found in sagebrush scrub, ponderosa forests and juniper woodlands. A native perennial, Hooker’s balsamroot can be found throughout the western states. The leaves are an important field characteristic for identification. Arising from woody taproot in a basal cluster, the greyish leaves are pinnate, ladderlike and hairy. Other balsamroot species, such as the arrowleaf balsamroot (which I posted last year), have entire leaves of various shapes. The solitary bright yellow flowers are found at the ends of leafless stems.
All parts of plants belonging to the Balsamorhiza genus are edible, as discussed in the arrowleaf balsamroot post.
One of the earliest spring bloomers, Hooker’s balsamroot is also commonly called rock balsamroot or hairy balsamroot.
These Hooker’s balsamroot plants were growing on a rocky hillside overlooking Ash Creek in Lassen County CA.