Fernleaf Biscuitroot (Lomatium dissectum)One of 100+ species of Pacific Northwest native plants available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants, Native Plant Nursery in Portland, Oregon.
Fernleaf Biscuitroot (Lomatium dissectum)One of 100+ species of Pacific Northwest native plants available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants, Native Plant Nursery in Portland, Oregon.

Fernleaf Biscuitroot

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Lomatium dissectum 

Fernleaf Bicuitroot (aka Fernleaf Desert Parsley) is as visually stunning, as it is uncommon to find in home gardens and nurseries. Like its numerous cousins in the Lomatium family, it has a carrot-like taproot, with delicate, lacey leaves. It's impressively abundant, lime-green foliage emerges in early spring and boasts countless oversized, umbrella-shaped clusters (umbels) of tiny yellow to purple flowers as early as March. Both foliage and flower umbels are super-sized, making it truly a collectors item in habitat gardens with exceptional drainage. 

  • Plant type/canopy layer: deciduous, perennial, herbaceous plant
  • Size at maturity: 3-5’ tall and equally wide during growing season, dies back entirely in winter
  • Light requirements: full sun to partial shade
  • Moisture requirements:  dry soil, needs excellent drainage
  • Growth rate/ease: fast growing
  • Bloom time: March to June
  • Wildlife support: crucial early season foraging plant for many species of wildlife and insects from beas to native bees, moths and butterflies, host plant for several species of swallowtail butterflies 
  • Native range: open rocky talus slopes and in dry rocky meadows from the lowlands to moderate elevation in the mountains from south western Canada on both sides of the Cascade Mts. through WA and OR, to southern California and east to the Rocky Mts. of Colorado and Arizona. Portland Plant List – no. 
  • Special features & uses: pollinator meadows and butterfly gardens, also used for food, medicine, and in ceremonies by many groups of indigenous people in the western US and SW Canada

Gardening with Fernleaf Biscuitroot: This is a unique, yet fun plant to design with in small home gardens due to its exceptional size and stunning characteristics. Select areas that are sunny, dry and exceptionally well-draining, like a rocky pollinator garden or open slope - where it can take up space in spring without leaving a gaping hole when it dies back each winter. Low-maintenance and drought tolerant once established. 

Photo credit: "The hike has now gone significantly uphill - Lomatium Dissectum, Fernleaf Biscuitroot" by niiicedave is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0