Lomatium triternatum

From Puget Prairie Plants
  • Scientific Name: Lomatium triternatum
  • Family: Apiaceae
  • Common Names: triternate biscuit-root
  • Codon: LOMTR I

Photo by Ray Izumi, 2010, also featured on Main Page


Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Subkingdom: Viridiplantae
Phylum: Tracheophyta
Subphylum: Spermatophytina
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Asteranae
Order: Apiales
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Lomatium Raf.
Species: Lomatium triternatum (Pursh) J.M. Coult. & Rose


Plant Description

For the Lomatium genus, mature fruit shape, aspect ratio, and pedicel length are diagnostic.[2]

Native taprooted perennial herb, growing up to 8 dm tall, glabrous to finely hairy.[3][4]

Leaves are mostly basal or lower cauline, ternately to ternately-pinnately compound, leaflets linear to lanceolate-ovate.[5][4]

Inflorescence of compound umbels, corollas yellow, spokes of the umbel of unequal lengths, 2-10 cm long; involucels present.[5]

Fruit +- 8-10 mm x +-3-5.5mm, elliptical, mature ribs glabrous to minutely hairy.[2][5]

Bloom Period

April to July [6]


Southern Alberta and southern BC southward to northwest Montana, central Idaho, and throughout eastern Oregon and the sagebrush steppe of eastern Washington, prairies in south Puget Sound.[2][3]


Dry, open slopes and grasslands in the lowland, steppe, and montane zones.[7]


Many Lomatiums are important food plants.

Sx̌ʷyʔiɬpx use of dried flowers and upper leaves as flavoring for stews and other foods, also dried flowers and leaves taken for colds and sore throats.

Atsugewi use of roots as food, cooked in earth oven.[8]


Seed matures in July or August. Seed disarticulates easily from stems.

Requires extensive stratification, fall dormant seeding preferred.

Above-ground growth is slow, as plant establishes taproot. Many plants will not produce flowers and fruits in the first few years.[9]


Lomatium triternatum, photo by Lisa Hintz

Seed sample from: 2011

Average Measurement: 9.5 x 3.3 x 1

Measurement Range: L: 7.25 - 12.5, W: 3 - 4, D: 0.5 - 1.5


Shape: Seed a schizocarp, winged, laterally compressed, and ribbed.

Color: On one seed face, there are three white ribs that run across a dark reddish brown surface. On the opposite seed face there is one rib that bisects the dark brown.

Surface: Seeds are matte.

Latitudinal Cross Section: rhombic LOTR-lat-crosssection.png

Longitudinal Cross Section: elliptical LOTR-long-crosssection.png

Basic Explanations and Assumptions:

The dimensions for the seeds are length x width x depth. The location of the hilum is used as the base of the seed, and the length is measured from hilum to the opposite apex. Where a style is present, the length is measured from the hilum to the bottom of the style. Width is measured at a right angle to the length at the widest part. Depth is measured at a right angle to the intersection of height and width lines.

Measurements included are the mean average for each measurement of ten separate seeds.

All measurements in millimeters unless otherwise noted.

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  1. Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved from https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=29754
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Hitchcock, C. L., Cronquist, A., Giblin, D., & Legler, B. et al. (2018). Flora of the Pacific Northwest: an illustrated manual. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Bowcutt, F., & Hamman, Sarah. (2016). Vascular plants of the South Sound prairies (First ed.). Olympia, Washington: The Evergreen State College Press.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Lincoln Constance & Margriet Wetherwax 2017, Lomatium triternatum, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, Revision 5, /eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=31469, accessed on June 08, 2020.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2020. E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia [eflora.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2020-06-08 12:03:17 PM ]
  6. WTU Herbarium, Burke Museum, & University of Washington. Retrieved from https://biology.burke.washington.edu/herbarium/imagecollection/taxon.php?Taxon=Lomatium%20triternatum
  7. Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2020. E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia [eflora.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2020-06-08 4:10:24 PM]
  8. Native American Ethnobotany Database. Retrieved from http://naeb.brit.org/uses/search/?string=Lomatium+triternatum
  9. Tilley, Derek; St. John, Loren.; Ogle, Dan.; Shaw, Nancy.; Cane, Jim. 2012. Propagation protocol for production of Lomatium triternatum (Pursh) Coulter & Rose seeds; USDA NRCS - Aberdeen Plant Materials Center, Aberdeen, Idaho. In: Native Plant Network. URL: http://www.nativeplantnetwork.org (accessed 4 April 2012). Moscow (ID): University of Idaho, College of Natural Resources, Forest Research Nursery.