BLOOMIN’ BLUES

Gray's Lomatium

Name: Gray’s Lomatium

Scientific name: Lomatium grayi

Gray’s Lomatium is found from British Columbia to Northern California, to Wyoming and Colorado. It prefers low to moderate elevations.

The genus name lomatium is from the Greek loma, for border, referring to thin wings around the seeds. The species was named in 1900 for Asa Gray, who was professor of botany at Harvard for decades. He is considered the most influential botanist of the 19th century, and the foremost authority on the classification of North American plants at that time. In fact, he corresponded with William Cusick of Union, Oregon and Ruben Nevius of several Eastern Oregon towns, and named several plants after them.

Lomatium plants are characterized by leaves divided into many small leaflets. Gray’s Lomatium takes the leaves to the extreme. Imagine a really large leaf with many threadlike veins going in all directions on the surface. Next imagine the leaf with all the surface removed except for the threadlike netting of veins, and with the veins going in three dimensions to the extent that the leaf becomes rather thick. The smallest segment of the leaf is about 1/8 to 3/8 inches long by less than half a millimeter wide.

The flowers of this plant are borne on a bare stem 10 to 20 inches tall, reaching above the leaves. The top of the stem holds an umbel radiating short stems. Each short stem holds a much smaller umbel of tiny yellow flowers.

The roots and young stems of the plant were used for food by some Northwest tribes.

Where to find: This plant can be found now along the river parkway in Pendleton near the Little League park (unless the goats ate it), and in open areas at lower elevations in the forest in the Blue Mountains, including the roadside near Umatilla Forks.

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