The balsamroots can be difficult at times to distinguish from one another. There is a fair amount of hybridization between overlapping species, and variation within a species, or differences within individual plants (young versus late season plants) can lead to misidentification. Hopefully more work will be done to help determine more definite differences between the species so that identificaiton in the field can be more easily performed!
Carey's Balsamroot: Balsamorhiza careyana (Synonyms: Balsamorhiza careyana var. careyana, Balsamorhiza careyana var. intermedia) - Arrowhead leaves, leaf edges entire, and leaves green and nearly hairless. Plants to 3 feet tall. Several flower heads may be found per stem, and the flower heads tend to be smaller than the northwest or arrow-leaf balsamroots.
Deltoid Balsamroot, Northwest Balsamroot, Puget Balsamroot: Balsamorhiza deltoidea - Arrowhead-like leaves have partly toothed margins and are green and nearly hairless. Plants to 3 feet tall. This balsamroot is a native from west of the Cascades and evidently extends as far eastward as Biggs, OR and northward into central Washington.
Hispid Balsamroot: Balsamorhiza hispidula (Synonym: Balsamorhiza hookeri var. hispidula)
Hairy Balsamroot: Balsamorhiza hookeri (Synonyms: Balsamorhiza hirsuta, Balsamorhiza hookeri var. hirsuta, Balsamorhiza hookeri var. neglecta, Balsamorhiza hookeri var. platylepis, Balsamorhiza macrolepis var. platylepis, Balsamorhiza platylepis)
Hooker's Balsamroot: Balsamorhiza hookeri (Synonym: Balsamorhiza hookeri var. hookeri) - Plant to 40 cm tall, with single to doubly pinnate basal leaves and single, silver dollar sized flower heads (yellow) atop the stems.
Hooker's Balsamroot: Balsamorhiza hookeri (Synonym: Balsamorhiza hookeri var. lagocephala) - Plant to 40 cm tall, with single to doubly pinnate basal leaves and single, silver dollar sized flower heads (yellow) atop the stems.
Hoary Balsamroot, Woolly Balsamroot: Balsamorhiza incana (Synonym: Balsamorhiza hookeri) - This balsamroot has pinnatifid leaves with the divisions being broader than the other pinnatifid balsamroots. The divisions tend to be entire or with a few coarse teeth or segments. Plants may range from 15 to 70 cm in height. The flower heads typically have 13 rays, but occasionally as many as 21 may be found.
Large-leaf Balsamroot: Balsamorhiza macrophylla (Synonym: Balsamorhiza hookeri var. idahoensis)
Rosy Balsamroot: Balsamorhiza rosea - Plant to 30 cm tall with wavy edged to pinnatified leaf edges and single, 50 cent piece sized flower heads atop the stems. The flower heads age to roseate. Similar to Hooker's Balsamroot but smaller in stature.
Arrow-leaf Balsamroot: Balsamorhiza sagittata - Flowers and arrowhead leaves somewhat woolly or velvety. leaf margins entire (smooth). Flowers large (to 4 inches wide) and yellow. Plants to 2 feet tall.
Serrate Balsamroot, Toothed Balsamroot: Balsamorhiza serrata - A smaller balsamroot with serrate to deeply pinnatifid leaves, often on the same plant. Ray flowers are permanently yellow, surrounding a yellow-orange central disk.
Carey's X Hooker's Hybrid Balsamroot: Balsamorhiza careyana x hookeri
Arrowleaf X Carey's Hybrid Balsamroot: Balsamorhiza careyana x sagittata
Hybrids of Hooker's and Arrow-leaf Balsamroot: Balsalmorhiza hookeri var. lagocephala X sagittata- Plants intermediate in size and characteristics to Arrow-leaf and Hooker's Balsamroots. The leaves are shallowly cleft.
Hybrids of Arrow-leaf and Rosy Balsamroot: Balsamorhiza X bonseri -
Wormwood Balsamroot: Balsamorhiza X terebinthacea -
Woolly Hybrid Balsamroot: Balsamorhiza X tomentosa -