The photo above shows Carey's balsamroot as seen in the Horse Heaven Hills near Benton City, WA.........April 28, 2006. Note the shiny green surface to the leaves with creamy main veins of this species.
The large, flat flower heads of Carey's balsamroot have a 2.5 cm wide yellowish central disk surrounded by 8 or 13 yellow ray flowers. The ray flowers persist on the flower head after bloom. Flower heads may be solitary to several per leafless stem, with the terminal head larger on variety intermedia. Variety intermedia may also have up to 21 rays. The leaves are up to 30 cm long and up to 15 cm wide. The blades are heart-shaped to triangular-hastate. Plants range from 20 to 100 cm high and the herbage ranges from smooth to glandular. One to five flower heads are found atop the stems. The involucre ranges from 2-2.5 cm high with the stiff bracts very gradually narrowed from the base to the tip. The rays generally measure 1.5 to 2 cm long, shorter than those of the two similar balsamroots listed below. Carey's balsamroot flowers from March into June.
Carey's balsamroot is significantly less hairy than Balsamorhiza sagittata, with the leaves being a bright green. The involucre is also only slightly haired or woolly in contrast to the woolly involucre of B. sagittata.
Although similar to Balsamorhiza deltoidea, Carey's balsamroot keeps the dry papery rays after flowering has completed while this trait does not appear in the former species (these two species do approach each other in the mid Columbia River Gorge, but hybridization evidently does not occur).
Carey's balsamroot is found in dry open habitats from the lowlands extending well up into the mountains.. It has a preference for the deeper soils on sloping ground rather than the rocky hilltops.
Carey's balsamroot may be found entirely east of the Cascade Mountains from south-central British Columbia through central Washington into north-central Oregon.
Leaf of Carey's Balsamroot along Highway 97 in Yakima Indian Reservation......5/10/97.
Carey's balsamroot as seen on sand dunes atop the White Bluffs (north), Hanford Reach National Monument...........April 26, 2014. The photo at right shows a dead crown and taproot of Carey's balsamroot which was exposed by wind to give an idea of its size. The crown and exposed root are about the diameter of the hitting end of a baseball bat.