[Desert Parsleys East of the Cascade Mts. of Oregon and Washington]

Cous, Cous Biscuitroot, Cous-root Desert Parsley

Lomatium cous

Synonyms: Lomatium circumdatum, Lomatium montanum

Cous, Cous Biscuitroot, Cous-root Desert Parsley: Lomatium cous (Synonyms: Lomatium circumdatum, Lomatium montanum)

The photo above shows cous as seen several miles north of Antelope, OR.............April 19, 2007.

Maturing fruits of Cous, Cous Biscuitroot, Cous-root Desert Parsley: Lomatium cous (Synonyms: Lomatium circumdatum, Lomatium montanum)The photo at right shows the fruits of cous as seen along the South Steens Loop Road...........June 22, 1999.
Characteristics:

Also known as biscuit-root, cous is an attractive perennial wildflower with one to several stems ascending 10-35 cm high from a slender, elongate or occasionally short, thick, tuberous root. The herbage of stems and leaves is glabrous. The stems range from very short and difficult to distinguish with all basal leaves to longer with several reduced leaves on the stems. The leaves are pinnately to ternate-pinnately dissected with crowded, ovate to oblong segments from 1-5 mm long and 1-2 mm wide. The blades range from 5.5-9.5 cm long with the petioles from 3-6 cm long and with a wide sheathing base often as much as one-half the length of the petiole (See photo below.). The flower stem generally exceeds the leaves.

Each umbel consists of 10-12 rays of unequal length, the longest measuring from 1-5 cm long. The involucel consists of a ring of distinct, ovate bracts which are equal to or exceed the yellowish flowers. Each umbellet is about 20-flowered. The glabrous fruits are oblong-elliptic in shape and 5-12 mm long and up to 3-5 mm wide with wings narrower than the body. The short stems below individual fruits are 2-4 mm long.


Importance:

Cous was an important root crop for Native Americans. The roots were dug in early May and eaten raw, boiled, or sun dried and made into flour. The flour was then used to make "brick loaves." The seeds were eaten raw or roasted. Processed Cous was an important item of trade and was important as a substantial winter food supply.


Habitat:

Cous may be found on dry, open and oft rocky slopes and valley bottoms from the foothills to well above timberline in the mountains.


Range:

Cous may be found in the Blue Mts. of southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon south to Harney County in eastern Oregon and east across central Idaho to Meagher and Carbon counties in Montana, the mountains of northern Wyoming, northeastern Nevada, and Owyhee County in southwest Idaho.


Broad involucel bracts beneath the umbelets of Cous, Cous Biscuitroot, Cous-root Desert Parsley: Lomatium cous (Synonyms: Lomatium circumdatum, Lomatium montanum)
The photo above shows the distinctive ovate bracts beneath the umbelets of Cous, as seen at Daugherty Springs Meadows in the Wallowa-Whitman N.F........May 30, 1999.

Inflorescence of Cous, Cous Biscuitroot, Cous-root Desert Parsley: Lomatium cous (Synonyms: Lomatium circumdatum, Lomatium montanum)

The photo above shows a close-up view downwards onto the upper surface of the umbel of cous as seen along Oregon Highway 206 several miles northwest of Condon, OR................April 8, 2007.

Cous, Cous Biscuitroot, Cous-root Desert Parsley: Lomatium cous (Synonyms: Lomatium circumdatum, Lomatium montanum)

The photo above shows another example of cous as seen several miles north of Antelope, OR................April 19, 2007.

Leaf of Cous, Cous Biscuitroot, Cous-root Desert Parsley: Lomatium cous (Synonyms: Lomatium circumdatum, Lomatium montanum)

The photo above shows a young leaf of cous. Other desert parsleys which have leaves similar in appearance to cous include Canby's desert parsley (white umbels) and sheathing desert parsley (generally has at least one stem leaf).

Broad leafy bracts beneath an umbelet of Cous, Cous Biscuitroot, Cous-root Desert Parsley: Lomatium cous (Synonyms: Lomatium circumdatum, Lomatium montanum)

The photo above shows the broad, elliptical to ovate bracts found below an umbellet of cous as seen along Oregon Highway 206 to the northwest of Condon, OR................April 8, 2007.

Broad tuberous root of Cous, Cous Biscuitroot, Cous-root Desert Parsley: Lomatium cous (Synonyms: Lomatium circumdatum, Lomatium montanum)

Close-up of the broad, tuberous root of cous as seen at the Lawrence Memorial Grasland Preserve in north-centeral Oregon.................May 15, 2010. Native americans used cous as a prized source of starch. Eaten raw, the roots are very palatable and have no apparent taste.

Cous, Cous Biscuitroot, Cous-root Desert Parsley: Lomatium cous (Synonyms: Lomatium circumdatum, Lomatium montanum) - Cous, Cous Biscuitroot, Cous-root Desert Parsley: Lomatium cous (Synonyms: Lomatium circumdatum, Lomatium montanum)

The photo above shows the broad, elliptical to ovate bracts found below an umbellet of cous as seen along Oregon Highway 206 to the northwest of Condon, OR................April 8, 2007.

Cous, Cous Biscuitroot, Cous-root Desert Parsley: Lomatium cous (Synonyms: Lomatium circumdatum, Lomatium montanum)

Cous beginning to bloom along the Steens Mountain North Loop Road, Steens Mountain of southeastern Oregon............June 2, 2012. This site is about one mile below the upper limit of the juniper forest on the mountain.

Fruit of Cous, Cous Biscuitroot, Cous-root Desert Parsley: Lomatium cous (Synonyms: Lomatium circumdatum, Lomatium montanum) - Inflorescence of Cous, Cous Biscuitroot, Cous-root Desert Parsley: Lomatium cous (Synonyms: Lomatium circumdatum, Lomatium montanum) - Umbelets of Cous, Cous Biscuitroot, Cous-root Desert Parsley: Lomatium cous (Synonyms: Lomatium circumdatum, Lomatium montanum)

Leaf of Cous, Cous Biscuitroot, Cous-root Desert Parsley: Lomatium cous (Synonyms: Lomatium circumdatum, Lomatium montanum) - Close-up view of the leaflets of Cous, Cous Biscuitroot, Cous-root Desert Parsley: Lomatium cous (Synonyms: Lomatium circumdatum, Lomatium montanum)

The 5 photos above show various views of cous as seen on steep east-facing slopes at Saddle Creek Viewpoint along Hat Point Road in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area......................June 28, 2007.
Paul Slichter