Did you know that the Balsamorhiza sagittata, also called the Arrowleaf Balsamroot, is Kelowna's official flower?
It's indigenous to the Southern Interior of British Columbia and covers the hillsides of the Okanagan Valley every spring. The name of the arrowleaf balsamroot comes from a combination of the shape of its leaves and the fragrant balsam, or resin, found in its roots. The roots can reach a depth of 8 feet, and the plant itself stands 1-2 feet tall, with a single sunflower-like bloom supported by individual stalks.
First Nations used this plant for a variety of purposes, including food and medicine. Almost every part of the arrowleaf balsamroot is edible, and local native peoples ate various parts of it throughout the year. The plant is also a staple food for local wildlife. Its flower head is favoured in particular.
As a medicine, arrowleaf balsamroot can be used to relieve pain, aid in recovery from colds, and to treat burns, wounds, insect bites and swelling. Few people in the Okanagan Valley still use it for these purposes, but the beautiful, sunny presence of the arrowleaf balsamroot on Okanagan land is a reminder of local history and of the Valley's bright future.