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  Accurate identification of the several dozen species of Lomatium is, according to Intermountain Flora, "notoriously difficult....  Some species are highly variable...." Both fruits and flowers are often necessary for identification.  Intermountain Flora further observes that "the distinction between Cymopterus and Lomatium is subject to failure". Ordinarily one or more of the Cymopterus dorsal seed ribs have wings; Lomatium seed ribs do not have wings"Cymopterus newberryi completely bridges the difference.  In this species the dorsal wings vary from nearly or fully as large as the lateral ones to poorly developed or even obsolete".

   "Loma" is Greek for "border" and refers to the small wings of the fruit.  The genus was named by Constantine Rafinesque in 1819.

Lomatium dissectum

Lomatium dissectum (Giant Lomatium)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Shrublands, woodlands, openings. Spring.
Prater Ridge Trail, Mesa Verde National Park, May 2, 2006.

Lomatium dissectum,sometimes called "Fernleaf Lomatium", has large, handsome, leaves that are usually pinnately dissected but they are infrequently (as shown here) more broadly dissected. Flowers surmount a  stalk that is up to 40 inches tall. Flowers start in a tight circle and spread in a golden wheel formation over six inches in diameter.  (See photographs below.) The plant is often found on open rocky slopes and dry meadows.

Thomas Nuttall named this species Leptotaenia dissecta from a specimen he collected in Oregon in the mid-1830s.  Mathias and Constance renamed it Lomatium dissectum in 1942.

Lomatium dissectum

Lomatium dissectum

Lomatium dissectum

Lomatium dissectum (Giant Lomatium)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Shrublands, woodlands, openings. Spring.
Prater Ridge Trail, Mesa Verde National Park, May 2, 2006 and Sleeping Ute Mountain, May 7, 2012.

Lomatium dissectum

Lomatium dissectum (Giant Lomatium)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Shrublands, woodlands, openings. Spring.
Prater Ridge Trail, Mesa Verde National Park, May 2, 2006.

Leaves are very similar to those of Ligusticum porteri but are generally more glossy and not mottled as those of Ligusticum commonly are. Lomatium dissectum has yellow flowers in the spring; Ligusticum porteri has white flowers in the summer. The ranges overlap in the lower mesas but only L. porteri is found in the higher mountains.

Lomatium grayi

Lomatium grayi (Biscuitroot)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Shrublands, woodlands, openings. Spring.
Dolores River Overlook Trail, April 25, 2007.

This is a wide-spread and abundant Lomatium blooming in the early spring in the Four Corners area of Colorado and Utah. It is rare in New Mexico and absent from Arizona. Leaves are subdivided into numerous, fine segments that turn in different planes, giving the plant a very thick, fern-like appearance. Flower stalks often lean.

The first specimen of this plant was collected by Sereno Watson on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake in Utah around 1868 and was named Peucedanum milleflium by Watson. It was renamed several times until in 1900 John Merle Coulter and Joseph Rose gave the present name. Asa Gray was a student of the great John Torrey, and Watson was Gray's student. The three dominated 19th century American botany.  (More biographical information about Gray.)

Lomatium grayi

Lomatium grayi ( Biscuitroot)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Shrublands, woodlands, openings. Spring.
Near Lone Mesa State Park, April 23, 2012.

Lomatium grayi

Lomatium grayi

Lomatium grayi ( Biscuitroot)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Shrublands, woodlands, openings. Spring.
Lone Mesa State Park, April 26, 2009.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Lomatium dissectum

Range map for Lomatium grayi  

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