Pestle Lomatium

Pestle lomatium (Lomatium nudicaule) was used by Native Americans and until the 1800s in medicine to treat consumption (tuberculosis). Hence another of its colloquial names, Indian consumption plant. Seeds from this member of the Carrot Family (Apiaceae) also were chewed for sore throats and colds. Pestle lomatium has been shown to exhibit antibacterial activity.

In addition to its medicinal uses, the young leaves taste like celery and are rich in Vitamin C so make a good potherb or can be eaten raw. Pestle lomatium seeds can add flavor to foods and tobacco.

A perennial native, pestle lomatium is a hairless plant that arises from a stout taproot. Except for the yellow flowers, the plant is blueish green and glaucous (covered in a white, waxy powder which can be rubbed off). The stem is hollow.

Pestle lomatium leaves are mostly basal, veiny and thrice divided into oblong or egg-shaped leaflets.

The peduncle (flower stalk) has a smooth, swollen tip from which the inflorescence, a compound umbel, arises. The secondary umbels each contain several to many flowers and are well separated on long stalks. The five sepals are fused to the two-chambered inferior ovary. Each flower also has five petals and five stamens.

Pestle lomatium fruits are long, flattened schizocarps (dry and splitting into two halves). The fruits are long, flattened and have wings. Each half of the schizocarp contains one seed.

Pestle lomatium can be found growing in low to mid elevations in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada and Utah. Its habitat is dry open or sparsely treed sites.

Other common names for L nudicaule include bare-stem desert parsley and barestem biscuitroot.

In May these specimens were photographed in one of two places: the Quarry Trail at Ash Creek Wildlife Area (Modoc County CA) or on Timbered Crater near McArthur CA (Shasta County).

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