Herb: Breadroot

Latin name: Psoralea esculenta

Synonyms: Pediomelum esculentum

Family: Leguminosae

Medicinal use of Breadroot:

An infusion of the dried roots has been used in the treatment of gastro-enteritis, sore throats and chest problems. The roots have been chewed by children as a treatment for bowel complaints. A poultice of the chewed roots has been applied to sprains and fractures.

Description of the plant:


30 cm
(11 3/4 inch)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

Rocky woods and prairies, on calcareous soils.

Edible parts of Breadroot:

Root - raw or cooked. It can also be dried for later use. The dried root can be ground into a powder and used with cereals in making cakes, porridges etc. Starchy and glutinous, the raw root is said to have a sweetish turnip-like taste. The plant is best harvested as the tops die down at the end of the growing season. This food is a staple and also considered to be a luxury item by many native North American Indian tribes. The root contains about 70% starch, 9% protein and 5% sugars.

Other uses of the herb:

The plant is a good soil stabilizer in its natural environment.

Propagation of Breadroot:

Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and then sow in early to mid spring in a greenhouse. Either sow the seed in individual pots or pot up the young seedlings as soon as possible in order to avoid root disturbance. Grow them on in the pots until planting out in their final positions. It is usually impossible to transplant this species without fatal damage to the root. Division in spring. With great care since the plant resents root disturbance. It is virtually impossible to divide this species successfully.

Cultivation of the herb:

Rocky woods and prairies, on calcareous soils.

Known hazards of Psoralea esculenta:

This species contains furanocoumarins, these substances can cause photosensitivity in some people.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.