Synonym: Leptotaenia purpurea
Columbia desert parsley is a very attractive perennial wildflower with one to several stout, erect stems arising from 30-60 cm high from a thick, woody taproot. The stems are generally leafless, although a single stem leaf may be possible. The herbage is glabrous and strongly glaucous (blue-gray). The leaves are ternate-pinnately dissected into narrow linear segments from 6-15 mm long and about 1 mm wide. Individual leaves are 15-30 cm long with strong petioles. The flowering stems are hollow and 50-100 cm long.
The inflorescence is an umbel with 10-20 rays, each from 10-12 cm long at maturity and generally all roughly equal in length. The petals are a deep reddish purple, or occasionally may be yellow. Numerous narrow bracts are found beneath each umbelet. The glabrous fruits are elliptic to oblong in shape with thick wings less than half as wide as the body. The fruits are 16-28 mm long, 8-15 mm wide, and found atop pedicels from 1-2 cm long. Columbia desert parsley typically begins to bloom immediately as it emerges from the ground, and then sporadically for up to 6 weeks later.
It is possible to grow Columbia desert parsley on the west side of the Cascade Mts. I have 2 plants, one of which has flowered for 3 years and is growing in size. Plants can be placed in the middle or back of a raised bed (I use a mix of composted soil and gritty sand with moderate sized rocks place around the crown.) with sufficient room for growth (plants can be up to one meter in diameter). These beds are covered with sheet plastic draped over PVC pipe for 2-3 months during the winter. The leaves can suffer from mold late in the season, especially during wet years.
Columbia desert parsley is found on dry, often rocky slopes at low elevations.
Columbia desert parsley may be found in the Columbia River Gorge extending northward in the Klickitat River canyon in Klickitat County in Washington and Hood River County and southward in the eastern Cascade Mt. foothills of Wasco County in Oregon.
The photo above shows an attractive, large clump of Columbia desert parsley as seen along Cowiche Mill Road several miles to the west of Yakima, WA..............March 28, 2007.
Close-up of Columbia desert parsley with its fruits nearing maturation as seen on steep open slopes above the Klickitat River in the Klickitat State Wildlife Area of south-central Washington....................May 24, 2009.
This photo shows columbia desert parslely in bloom in the Klickitat River Canyon between Glenwood, WA and Goldendale, WA..................April 5, 2008.