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Vascular Plants of California
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Balsamorhiza macrolepis

Higher Taxonomy
Family: Asteraceae (Compositae)View DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Annual to tree. Leaf: basal and/or cauline, alternate, opposite, rarely whorled, simple to 2+ × compound. Inflorescence: 1° inflorescence a head, resembling a flower, of several types (see below), 1--many in generally +- cyme-like cluster; each head generally with +- calyx-like involucre of 1--many series of phyllaries (involucre bracts); receptacle of head flat to conic or columnar, paleate (bearing paleae = receptacle bracts) or epaleate; flowers 1--many per head. Flower: bisexual, unisexual, or sterile, +- small, of several types (see below); calyx 0 or modified into +- persistent pappus of bristles, scales, and/or awns; corolla radial or bilateral (0), lobes generally (0)3--5; stamens 4--5, filaments generally free, generally fused to corolla at tube/throat junction, anthers generally fused into cylinder around style, anther base generally rounded or cordate (deeply sagittate or with tail-like appendages), tip (= flattened appendage) generally projecting beyond pollen sac; pistil 1, 2-carpeled, ovary inferior, 1-chambered, 1-seeded, placenta basal, style 1, tip generally +- 2-branched (except in some staminate disk flowers), branch tips truncate or generally bearing +- brush-like appendages; stigmas 2, generally on adaxial faces of style branches. Fruit: achene (also called a cypsela) (drupe in Chrysanthemoides), cylindric to ovoid, sometimes compressed, generally deciduous with pappus attached.
Genera In Family: +- 1500 genera, 23000 species: worldwide, many habitats. Note: Flower and head types differ in form and sexual condition. A disk flower has a generally radial corolla, with a cylindric tube, expanded throat, and generally 5 lobes. Disk flowers are generally bisexual and fertile but occasionally staminate with reduced ovaries. Discoid heads comprise only disk flowers. A radiant head is a variant of a discoid head, with peripheral disk flower corollas expanded, often bilateral. A ray flower corolla is bilateral, generally with a slender tube and flattened petal-like ray (single lip composed of generally 3 lobes). Ray flowers are generally pistillate or sterile (occasionally lacking styles). Radiate heads have peripheral ray flowers and central disk flowers. Disciform heads superficially resemble discoid heads, with pistillate or sterile flowers that lack rays, together with or separate from disk flowers. A ligulate flower is bisexual, with a bilateral, generally ephemeral corolla and 5-lobed ligule. Liguliflorous heads comprise only ligulate flowers. See glossary p. 31 for illustrations of family characteristics. Echinops sphaerocephalus L., Gaillardia aristata Pursh, Gaillardia pulchella Foug., Hymenothrix loomisii S.F. Blake, Tagetes erecta L., Thelesperma megapotamicum (Spreng.) Kuntze are waifs. Melampodium perfoliatum Kunth, historic urban waif. Ageratum conyzoides L., Guizotia abyssinica (L. f.) Cass., Santolina chamaecyparisus L., orth. var. are rare or uncommon escapes from cultivation. Dyssodia papposa, Ismelia carinata (Schousb.) Sch. Bip. [Chrysanthemum carinatum Schousb.], Mantisalca salmantica (L.) Briq. & Cavill. are historical or extirpated waifs in California. Inula helenium L. not documented in California. Taxa of Aster in TJM (1993) treated here in Almutaster, Doellingeria, Eurybia, Ionactis, Oreostemma, Sericocarpus, Symphyotrichum; Chamomilla in Matricaria; Bahia in Hymenothrix; Cnicus in Centaurea; Conyza in Erigeron and Laennecia; Dugaldia in Hymenoxys; Erechtites in Senecio; Hymenoclea in Ambrosia; Lembertia in Monolopia; Osteospermum ecklonis in Dimorphotheca; Picris echioides in Helminthotheca; Prionopsis in Grindelia; Raillardiopsis in Anisocarpus and Carlquistia; Schkuhria multiflora in Picradeniopsis; Trimorpha in Erigeron; Venidium in Arctotis; Whitneya in Arnica. Amauriopsis in TJM2 (2012) treated here in Hymenothrix; Arida in Leucosyris; Bahia in Picradeniopsis; Eucephalus in Doellingeria.
Unabridged Note: Largest family of vascular plants in California and of eudicots globally.
eFlora Treatment Author: David J. Keil, except as noted
Scientific Editor: David J. Keil, Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: BalsamorhizaView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Perennial herb from fleshy taproot; caudices 1--many. Stem: erect. Leaf: basal and few cauline, alternate or opposite, long-petioled; blade entire to 1--3-pinnately lobed. Inflorescence: heads 1--few, radiate; peduncles long, bracts 0--few; involucre hemispheric to bell-shaped; phyllaries in 2--4 series; receptacle flat, paleate; paleae folded around fruits. Ray Flower: showy; ray yellow. Disk Flower: many; corolla yellow, tube short, throat cylindric to narrowly bell-shaped; style branches tapered. Fruit: oblong, 3--4-angled; pappus 0.
Etymology: (Greek: balsam root, from sticky sap of taproot) Note: Hybrids common.
eFlora Treatment Author: David J. Keil
Reference: Weber 2006 FNANM 21:93--99
Unabridged Reference: Weber 1982 Phytologia 50:357--359
Balsamorhiza macrolepis W.M. Sharp
Stem: 2--6 dm, finely hairy, generally also gland-dotted. Leaf: basal 15--40 cm, blade lanceolate to elliptic, pinnately divided into linear to ovate segments, finely strigose, green to lightly silvery canescent, sometimes gland-dotted; cauline often 2--3 near base. Inflorescence: head generally 1; outer phyllaries 20--40 mm, generally 6--10 mm wide, lance-ovate, tip wide, flat, obtuse to acute, appressed to spreading, finely strigose, minutely glandular. Ray Flower: ray 2--3 cm. Disk Flower: corolla 7--10 mm. Fruit: 7--8 mm.
Ecology: Open grassy or rocky slopes, valleys; Elevation: generally <= 1400 m. Bioregional Distribution: SNF, c SNH, ScV, e SnFrB. Flowering Time: Mar--Jul
Synonyms: Balsamorhiza macrolepis W.M. Sharp var. macrolepis
Jepson eFlora Author: David J. Keil
Reference: Weber 2006 FNANM 21:93--99
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)
Listed on CNPS Rare Plant Inventory

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Botanical illustration including Balsamorhiza macrolepis

botanical illustration including Balsamorhiza macrolepis


Citation for this treatment: David J. Keil 2012, Balsamorhiza macrolepis, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on February 04, 2023.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2023, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on February 04, 2023.

Balsamorhiza macrolepis
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© 2011 Vernon Smith
Balsamorhiza macrolepis
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© 2011 Neal Kramer
Balsamorhiza macrolepis
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© 2011 Barry Breckling
Balsamorhiza macrolepis
click for enlargement
© 2011 Neal Kramer
Balsamorhiza macrolepis
click for enlargement
© 2011 Neal Kramer
Balsamorhiza macrolepis
click for enlargement
© 2011 Vernon Smith

More photos of Balsamorhiza macrolepis in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Balsamorhiza macrolepis:
SNF, c SNH, ScV, e SnFrB.
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).