[Biscuitroots and Desert Parsleys: The Genus Lomatium in the Columbia River
Gorge of Oregon and Washington]
Gray's Biscuitroot, Gray's Lomatium, Milfoil Lomatium, Pungent Desert Parsley
Synonyms: Lomatium grayi, Lomatium grayi var. grayi
Pungent desert parsley just begining to bloom at left as it emerges from cracks between rocks in an outcrop along the west side of Interstate 84 just northwest of the Chenoweth Exit to the west of The Dalles, OR........February 14, 2009. The photo at right shows pungent desert parsley blooming on rocky slopes above the Crawford Oaks Trailhead, Columbia Hills State Park.........February 23, 2016. Both of these plants are very early plants, so they haven't had a chance to assume the broad, lacy and globose form the plants display later in season.
As its name implies, pungent desert parsley has a definite pungent,
sometimes malodorous smell when its herbage is lightly crushed. It is a perennial
wildflower with several glabrous stems ascending from 15-50 cm high from a thick
taproot topped by the remains of previous years' leaves. The herbage ranges
from glabrous and glaucous to slightly rough to the touch. The leaves are 6-10
cm long with inflated petioles. They are largely basal and are ternate-pinnately
compound, being dissected into numerous narrow linear acute segments up to 6
mm long and the segments oriented in many planes.
The inflorescence is an umbel, the unequal stems beneath each
umbelet measuring from 3.5-10 cm long. The petals are yellow. The fruit are
elliptic in shape, the lateral wings from 1/3-2/3 as wide as the body, and measuring
8-15 mm long.
Pungent desert parsley may be found in dry, open and rocky places
from the lowlands to moderate elevations in the mountains.
Pungent desert parsley may be found from central Washington
south to the east of the Cascade Mts. to central Oregon and east to northern
Idaho, northeastern Nevada, southwestern Wyoming, Utah, and southwestern Colorado.
In the Columbia River Gorge, it may be found between the elevations
of 100'-2500' from near Crown Point eastward throughout most of the eastern
Pungent desert parsley blooming on open slopes above the Dalles Mountain Ranch, Columbia Hills Historical State Park.....April 22, 2022.
Note the gray-green foliage on the short leaflet segments due to the dense number of glands on the foliage. Similar Lomatium klickitatense has longer, narrower segments lacking the glands, so its foliage is green, not gray.
Pungent desert parsley observed beginning to bloom on slopes above the Crawford Oaks Trailhead at Columbia Hills Historical State Park.....February 24, 2021.
Pungent desert parsley as seen at left on cliffs above
the east bank of the Deshutes River about 2 miles upstream from its junction
with the Columbia River. Note the glaucous gray-green foliage consisting of
numerous short, thin segments oriented in many directions rather than in one
plane..........March 6, 2005. What appears to be Klickitat desert parsley blooming at right atop Marsh Hill near Memaloose in the Columbia River Gorge.........March 23, 2014.
The photo above shows a close-up of the foliage and newly opening
umbel of pungent desert parsley as seen on cliffs above the east bank of the
Deschutes River about 2 miles upstream from its junction with the Columbia River...........March
The first blooming pungent desert parsley of 2012 as seen in talus slopes along the old Highway 30 between the Chenoweth Exit and the Discovery Center just northwest of The Dalles, Oregon..........February 11, 2012. In this case, the plant is situated at the base of a large basalt block which radiates enough heat for the plant to grow earlier, and perhaps be warm enough to attract the first pollinating insects to the flowers.
The first blooming pungent desert parsley of 2019 observed about 2 miles upstream from the Columbia River along the eastbank of the Deschutes River......January 4, 2019.
The leaf and still green fruits of pungent desert
parsley from Horsethief Butte, Columbia River Gorge........May 5, 2001.