Herb: Fernleaf Biscuitroot

Latin name: Lomatium dissectum

Synonyms: Leptotaenia dissecta, Leptotaenia multifida

Family: Umbelliferae

Medicinal use of Fernleaf Biscuitroot:

Fernleaf biscuitroot was widely employed medicinally by many native North American Indian tribes who considered it to be a universal panacea and used it especially in treating chest problems and skin complaints. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism, but probably warrants investigation. The whole plant, but especially the root, is disinfectant, pectoral, salve, stomachic and tonic. The dried root was used in the treatment of rheumatism, stomach complaints, coughs, colds, hay fever, bronchitis, influenza, pneumonia and tuberculosis. The root was burnt and the smoke inhaled in the treatment of asthma and other chest complaints, it was also used as a herbal steam bath for treating chest complaints. The root was used to make a drink that was taken as a tonic to help people in a weakened condition gain weight. A poultice of the peeled and crushed roots has been applied to open cuts, sores, boils, bruises and rheumatic joints. The root has been soaked in water and then used as an antidandruff wash for the hair. An infusion of the leaves and stems has been used as a tonic. The root oil has been applied as a salve to sores and also used as an eye wash in the treatment of trachoma.

Description of the plant:


Habitat of the herb:

Open, often rocky slopes and dry meadows, often on talus.

Edible parts of Fernleaf Biscuitroot:

Root - cooked. Resinous and balsamic. The root can be dried and ground into a powder and then be mixed with cereal flours or added as a flavouring to soups etc. The roots have been boiled to make a refreshing and nutritious drink. Young seed sprouts - raw. Seed. No more details are given, though it is most likely used as an aromatic flavouring in cooked foods.

Other uses of the herb:

The pulverized root has been burnt as an incense.

Propagation of Fernleaf Biscuitroot:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed can be rather slow to germinate, when sown in the spring it usually takes at least 12 months to germinate. Giving it a period of cold stratification might reduce this time. The seedlings need to be pricked out into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle, and should be planted out into their permanent positions in the summer. Fresh seed can be sown immediately in situ. Division may be possible in spring or autumn.

Cultivation of the herb:

Open, often rocky slopes and dry meadows, often on talus.

Known hazards of Lomatium dissectum:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.