Synonyms: Lomatium circumdatum, Lomatium montanum
The photo above shows cous as seen several miles north of Antelope, OR.............April 19, 2007.
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.
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.
Cous may be found on dry, open and oft rocky slopes and valley bottoms from the foothills to well above timberline in the mountains.
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.
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.
-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.