Botanical Name: Balsamorhiza hookeri
Species: B. hookeri
*Balsamorhiza balsamorhiza (Hook.) A.Heller
*Balsamorhiza hirsuta Nutt.
*Balsamorhiza platylepis W.M.Sharp
*Heliopsis balsamorhiza Hook
Common Names: Balsam Root, Hooker’s balsamroot, Hairy balsamroot, Idaho balsamroot, Rabbithead balsamroot, Negle
Balsamorhiza hookeri is native to Western and Central N. America. It grows on dry rock outcrops in foothills and lowlands.
Balsamorhiza hookeri is a perennial plant, growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in). Leaves are compound pinnate, with the leaflet divisions also divided or deeply lobed. Basal leaves are hairy and may be up to 16 inches (41 cm) long. The stem is leafless and hairy. It blooms from April to July. Flower heads are 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.6 cm) wide, and sunflower-like, with 10-21 fringe-tipped ray flowers and numerous disc flowers.
Requires a deep fertile well-drained loam in full sun. Plants strongly resent winter wet. Hardy to at least -25°c. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance and should be planted into their permanent positions whilst still small.
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.
Division in spring. Very difficult since the plant strongly resents root disturbance. 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.
Root is eaten – raw or cooked. A sweet and agreeable taste when cooked. Seed – raw or cooked. It can be ground into a powder and formed into cakes for eating raw or made into a bread.
A decoction of the root has been used for stomach problems, bladder complaints and female complaints. The sub-species B. hookeri hirsuta has been specified for these uses.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.