Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Often called "yellow wild parsley," hairyseed lomatium sometimes blooms in late April on the Dakota prairies. The plant occurs in many of our eastern counties, but is more common west of the Missouri River. Elsewhere, the species occurs from Saskatchewan and Manitoba south to Missouri and Oklahoma.
The flowers of this perennial appear at about the same time as the leaves. In early spring, the plant may be only two inches tall, yet the minute clusters (umbels) of sulphur-yellow flowers are already apparent. Leaves are like those of parsley, only lead-gray in color because of an insulation of silky hairs. Flower stalks may be a foot tall by late May. There is no "stem" on hairyseed lomatium; the leaves and flower stalks instead arise directly from the crown of an exceptionally thick taproot. The seeds, like those of dill, have papery "wings."
Hairyseed lomatium seems to be avoided by livestock and has no known economic uses. This plant is a member of the parsley family (Apiaceae). The family includes the useful carrot, parsnip, caraway and dill, but also deadly species such as the water hemlock, which probably is the most poisonous plant in the North Temperate Zone. Apium is the ancient Greek name for celery. The generic name Lomatium stems from the Greek lomation, "a little border," in reference to the winged fruit. The specific epithet foeniculaceum means "resembling fennel" in botanical Latin. Hairyseed lomatium was first collected for science by Thomas Nuttall in the early 1800's.