Woolly-fruited Lomatium

Woolly-fruited Lomatium © CMclaughlin

Woolly-fruited desert parsley
Lomatium dasycarpum ssp. dasycarpum

Description (Jepson, PlantID.net)

  • Eudicotyledon
    • Eudicots are a major lineage of flowering plants; see family for general characteristics
  • Carrot Family (Apiaceae)
  • Perennial herb
    • Grows from an enlarged taproot (primary vertical root)
    • Whole plant usually densely hairy, giving plant a gray-green color
      • Some woolly-fruited lomatiums at Edgewood are glabrous (smooth, lacking hairs)
  • Leaves
    • Compound (divided into leaflets), heavily dissected, appearing feathery
    • Arising from the plant base (basal)
    • Leaf segments are terete (round in cross section), like pudgy fingers
    • Leaf midvein is indented
    • Petioles (leaf stalks) generally sheathed
  • Flowers
    • Inflorescence (flower arrangement) is a double umbel
      • An umbel is a spoke-like flower cluster with stalks radiating from a single point
      • A double umbel is two-tiered, like an umbrella of umbrellas
    • Flowers are greenish white to highlighter yellow, usually hairy, each with 5 tiny, incurving petals
    • Leaf-like structures (bractlets) at the base of the secondary umbels are pointed and clustered to one side
    • Flower stalks are thick and up to 14 in. long
    • Ovary inferior (below the attachment of other flower parts)
  • Fruit is a hairy flattened, round or oval schizocarp (a dry fruit that splits open into 2 single-seeded segments) with wings (extensions)
    • Wings usually wider than the body
  • Height to 20 in.
Flowers (L), Bractlets (M), Seeds (R) © DSchiel (L, M), Kkorbholz (R)


  • Native to California
    • Grows generally in serpentine soils on rocky slopes in chaparral or woodlands
    • 75-84% of plants occur on ultramafic soils, e.g. serpentine; see ultramafic affinity rankings (Calfora per Safford and Miller 2020)
    • See Serpentine Grassland for more about Edgewood’s serpentine soil and the unique communities it supports
    • See Calflora for statewide observations of this plant
  • Outside California, grows in Baja California, Mexico
  • Grows at elevations to 5,250 ft.

Uses (San Mateo County Parks prohibits removal of any natural material)

  • Wildlife
    • Nectar source for several butterfly species, e.g. anise swallowtail (Papillo zelicaon), and Bay checkerspot (Euphydryas editha bayensis)
    • Larval food source (host) for several butterfly species, e.g. anise swallowtail butterfly (P. zelicaon)
    • Other pollinators include spiders, beetles, flies, and bees
  • Native people
    • Roots eaten raw, baked, or dried for later consumption
    • Tender leaves and stems eaten as greens
    • Roots chewed for sore throat or an infusion of roots made to treat respiratory illnesses
    • Leaves used as padding, especially in baby cradles as a sleeping aid
    • See Carrot Family for more details about how Native people actively managed edible geophytes

Name Derivation

  • Lomatium (lo-MAY-tee-um) – from the Greek loma, “bordered,” referring to the marginal fruit wings
  • dasycarpum (das-ee-KAR-pum) – from the Greek dasy, “hairy” or “shaggy,” and karpos, “fruit,” referring to the woolly fruits


  • Wings on fruit enable wind dispersal of seeds
  • Lomatiums are strongly habitat specific and resist hybridization (Ritter 2018 and Darrach 2016)
    • Approximately 40% of Lomatium species are narrow endemics (restricted to a specific geographic location)
  • Lomatium plants are generally long-lived, some exceeding 100 years (Darrach 2016)
  • Geophytes, e.g. plants growing from bulbs, corms, rhizomes, or enlarged taproots, are adapted to survive fire, our Mediterranean climate’s long, dry summers, and extended droughts
    • Above-ground growth dies back after flowering, while underground the plant survives with stored water and nutrients
  • Edgewood’s woolly-fruited lomatium is classified as a subspecies
    • Subspecies indicates a geographically-separated population with distinct morphological characteristics; when not isolated, interbreeding is possible
    • Variety indicates a population with small morphological variations, e.g. color, seen throughout the geographic range of the species; interbreeding is possible
    • In practice, botanists have not consistently applied these ranks

ID Tips

  • May be confused with large-fruited lomatium (L. macrocarpum), which also grows in serpentine grasslands and chaparral
Large-fruited LomatiumWooly-fruited Lomatium
Hairinessless hairy, with hairless petals and nearly hairless fruitsusually more hairy, with hairy petals and fruits, although some at Edgewood are glabrous (smooth, lacking hairs)
Leaf Segmentsflat, like flat parsleyterete (round in cross section), like pudgy fingers
Leaf Midveinflatindented
Flower Colorlight yellowwhitish-green to highlighter yellow
Bractlets1narrowly ovate, with less venationbroadly ovate, with more venation
Wings2 on Fruitusually narrower than the bodyusually wider than the body
1 Modified leaves at base of flower clusters
2 Extensions
  • Edgewood has 5 Lomatiums: caraway-leaved lomatium (L. caruifolium var. caruifolium), woolly-fruited lomatium (L. dasycarpum ssp. dasycarpum), large-fruited lomatium (L. macrocarpum), common lomatium (L. utriculatum), and California lomatium (L californicum).
    • Identifying the 5 species of Lomatium at Edgewood and even distinguishing them from some Sanicle species can be challenging
    • Take note of the habitat, shape and presence of bractlets, color of foliage and flowers, fruit size and shape, presence or absence of leaf sheathing, and the presence or absence of fragrant leaves

At Edgewood

See General References

Specific References

Alexander, E.B. 2010, Oct. & 2011, Jan. Serpentine soils and why they limit plant survival and growth. Fremontia 38/39: 28-31.

Anderson, M.K. 2005. Tending the Wild. University of California, Berkeley.

Darrach, M.E. 2016. Lomatium – A Misunderstood Genus: New Taxonomic Understanding And Persistent Confusions and Contusions Regarding Circumscribing. Slide presentation. WA-Botanical Symposium, University of Washington Botanic Gardens.

Prigge, B.A. and A. C. Gibson. 2013. Lomatium dasycarpum dasycarpum. A Naturalist’s Flora of the Santa Monica Mountains and Simi Hills, California. Web version, hosted at Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. United States Department of Interior, National Park Service.

Ritter, M. 2018. California Plants: A Guide to Our Iconic Flora. Pacific Street Publishing, San Luis Obispo, California.

Safford, H.D. and J.E.D. Miller. 2020. An updated database of serpentine endemism in the California flora. Madroño 67(2): 85-104. BioOne Complete. PDF hosted by San Diego State University, San Diego, California.

Shapiro, A.M. and T.D. Manolis. 2007. Field Guide to Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley Regions. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California.