Common name: Gray’s desert parsley

Latin name: Lomatium grayi

Now that warmer weather and rain has brought many wildflowers to catch up with our expectations of a “normal spring,” there are lots to see and appreciate in the hills and valleys. One of the larger plants is Gray’s desert parsley.

The plant ranges from near sea level to upper elevations, in dry, often rocky places, from Eastern Washington to Nevada, and east to Idaho and Utah. Locally, it can be found along the Umatilla River, but no longer in Pendleton. It is throughout the Blues, is easy to spot, and now in bloom.

This is a large, rounded plant, up to 1-2 feet tall and wide. The leaves are thickly branched, with very tiny, densely and closely bunched leaf segments giving a lacy appearance. It is distinguished from similar plants by its foul odor, and the leaves are sometimes covered by a whitish, glaucous coating that wipes off if rubbed. The tiny yellow flowers are borne in compounded, somewhat closely crowded umbels.

Some Indian tribes have eaten tender young stems, and one tribe was reported to eat the roots raw in winter when hungry.

Where to find: Look along rocky road banks or near stream banks. The large-sized, finely divided, gray-green, non-shiny leaves and yellow umbels of flowers will give it away.

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Bruce Barnes directs Flora ID, producing plant ID software, found at http://flora-id.org. Reach him at flora.id@wtechlink.us.

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