Biscuitroots are a genus of wild parsley, Lomatium, with edible roots that are very suited to growing in the desert. Wikipedia says that they were "extensively used by Indians in the inland northwest as a staple food." They have winter-hardy roots that sprout and flower very early in the spring, while there is still moisture in the soil. Then when the weather turns hot and dry, they go dormant. I often look at them, and say to myself that I aught to grow them and select for larger roots, and tastier foliage. They would be a crop that could be farmed here without supplemental irrigation, because they grow during our rainy season.
So today, when I was biking between fields, I noticed a patch of biscuitroots that are flowering. They are less than 100 yards from one of my fields. So I suppose that I'll be collecting propagules and starting down the path of domesticating biscuitroot. I ate some of the raw foliage today. It was perfectly acceptable, even with all that extra parsley flavor.
I'm working towards living on my desert range land property, which I wish to observe and live on.
I hope to follow this thread closely, both to identify what the plant looks like in it's various life stages, and I hope to become a landrace range land farmer...
The name suggests that the roots could be used to make biscuits?
Please take many photos, as you do on your excellent website/seed-catalogue.
Mark Kissinger wrote:The tops remind me of carrots. What do the roots look like?
Can you supply any more details, such as growth habits, or preferred conditions?
The leaves smell and taste like parsley, but with higher concentrations of essential oils. The roots remind me of parsley flavored parsnips. Again with higher concentrations of essential oils. The few that I have dug were multi-rooted rather than having a single taproot. That might be due to growing in rocky ground, much like a carrot root splits in rocky ground.
I know of about four species.
One grows in and around maple woods. It is the largest plant. Easy to see from far away. This one grows in areas with more moisture.
One grows in areas that are slightly drier than juniper/pinion forests typically on south facing hills. It's a medium sized plant. (Photo at the end of this post).
One grows in the badlands that are too dry for sagebrush. It's a tiny plant that's barely noticeable. Root is surprisingly large for the small size of foliage.
The one that was the shown in the original post, which I found in a non-irrigated area in my village.
Perhaps all of our domesticated veggies come from tamed cousins of wild plants, usually by mediating the bitters, which so often also harbor the most needed nutritional elements: a little bit would go a long way...