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 Click to read about the Lomatium and Cymopterus genera.

This is a native species.

Lomatium dissectum
Lomatium dissectum

Lomatium multifidum. Synonym: Lomatium dissectum. (Fernleaf Biscuitroot)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Shrublands, woodlands, openings. Spring.
Above: Dolores River Canyon, May 6, 2016.
Left: Prater Ridge Trail, Mesa Verde National Park, May 2, 2006.

Lomatium multifidum can grow to over four feet tall, but in the Four Corners area it is most often 2-3 feet tall. It is typically found at the lower elevations of the foothills in shrublands and woodlands, in the latter as shown on this page.

Leaves (and perhaps even the entire plant) might be mistaken for Ligusticum porteri but the latter has much larger, spreading leaves, consistently puts out a taller flowering stem with white, not yellow flowers, and occurs not only in the foothills but also the montane and subalpine zones.

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.)

This species in the Four Corners area and much of the West was for many decades known as Lomatium dissectum, a species very similar to L. multifidum. Research by Smith et al. published in 2018 indicated that L. dissectum is a species of Northern California, Oregon, and Washington and the species of the Four Corners area and much of the West is Lomatium multifidum.

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

Thomas Nuttall named the L. dissectum species Leptotaenia dissecta from a specimen he collected in Oregon in the mid-1830s. However, Meriwether Lewis collected this species June 10, 1806 in Idaho along the Clearwater River. Click to read why Lewis' collection is not considered the type

Mathias and Constance renamed this species Lomatium dissectum in 1942.

Nuttall named the L. multifidum species Leptotaenia multifidum in 1840. In 2017 this name was changed by McNeil and Darrach to Lomatium multifidum.

"Multifidum" is Latin for "many divisions" and refers to the dissected leaves.

Lomatium dissectum

Lomatium dissectum

Lomatium dissectum

Lomatium dissectum

Lomatium multifidum. Synonym: Lomatium dissectum. (Fernleaf Biscuitroot)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Shrublands, woodlands, openings. Spring.
Prater Ridge Trail, Mesa Verde National Park, May 2, 2006; Sleeping Ute Mountain, May 7, 2012;
Dolores River Canyon, May 6, 2016; and Prater Ridge Trail, Mesa Verde National Park, June 29, 2016.

Clusters of tight buds open to attractive sprays of golden yellow flowers and then mature to seed heads 3-6 inches in diameter with fruits from 1/3' to 2/3' long. Seed wings are 1-2 mm wide.

Lomatium dissectum

Lomatium multifidum. Synonym: Lomatium dissectum. (Fernleaf Biscuitroot)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

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

Lomatium multifidum grows to four feet tall with robust stems that grow from a taproot that is a foot long and an inch wide. Stems are typically purple to purple-tinged.

Lomatium dissectum    Lomatium dissectum

Lomatium dissectum    Lomatium dissectum

Lomatium multifidum. Synonym: Lomatium dissectum. (Fernleaf Biscuitroot)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

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

Each of the top two photographs of the four immediately above shows just one leaf, cut numerous times into smaller leaflets which are cut again into fine leaflets as the last two photographs show. The plant at right has leaves that are cut more consistently one more time than those of the plant at left.

Leaves are similar to those of Ligusticum porteri but are generally more glossy and not mottled green as those of Ligusticum commonly are. Lomatium multifidum 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.

 

This is a native species.

Lomatium grayi

Lomatium grayi

Lomatium grayi

Lomatium grayi (Gray's Biscuitroot, Milfoil Lomatium)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Shrublands, woodlands, openings. Spring, summer.
Above: Dry Creek State Wildlife Area, June 12, 2019 and Dolores Canyon Overlook, May 27, 2021.
Left: Dolores Canyon Overlook Trail, April 25, 2007.

This is a wide-spread and abundant Lomatium blooming from early spring to early summer in the Four Corners area of Colorado and Utah. It is rare in New Mexico and absent from Arizona.

Very fragrant leaves are subdivided into numerous, fine segments that turn in different planes, giving the plant a very thick, fern-like appearance. Flowering stems are most often erect but commonly lean. Plants easily seed themselves in favored habitats and it is common to find dozens together. The top photograph above shows scores of plants in several hundred square feet. The photograph immediately above shows scores of seeds after a hearty bloom.

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

The first specimen of this species 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. Click for more biographical information about Gray.

Lomatium grayi

Lomatium grayi (Gray's Biscuitroot, Milfoil Lomatium)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

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

Lomatium grayi

Lomatium grayi

Lomatium grayi (Gray's Biscuitroot, Milfoil Lomatium)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Shrublands, woodlands, openings. Spring, summer.
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

Lomatium disectum

Range map for Lomatium dissectum

Lomatium multifidum

Range map for Lomatium multifidum

Range map for Lomatium grayi