Biscuit Root or Lomatium

Common name: Lomatium or Biscuit Root

Scientific name: Lomatium caruifolium
Family: Apiaceae (carrot)
Habitat: wet grassland
Size: plant up to 1 foot tall, flowers in clusters 1 to 2 cm across

Fun facts: The common name Biscuit Root comes from the fact that Native Americans made a type of flour from the large taproot.

Description: Member of the carrot family. The tiny (1-2 mm across) flowers have five petals. They are arranged in clusters called umbels. The leaves have delicate fern-like divisions. The plant is generally long-lived and grows each year from a carrot-like taproot which stores energy.

Lomatium is the only yellow flowered member of the carrot family at Mather Field. It prefers locations in between the wet vernal pools and the dry mima mound tops.

Life cycle: Lomatium is a perennial. The leaves generally die each year and new ones grow as soon as it rains in the fall. Biscuit Root blooms in March and early April.

Ecology: Biscuit Root is eaten by a number of animals. The roots are tasty and moisture-filled and are eaten by rodents during the summer. The leaves are eaten by rabbits. The large and oily seeds are a favorite food of some birds. Early settlers to California also used this plant as a herb for flavoring food.

Investigate: Lomatium is closely related to a number of the herbs and spices used to flavor foods. Rub the leaves or seeds and then smell your fingers. Does it remind you of something you have tasted in spicy foods?