Desert Parsley

I went looking for morels last weekend and didn’t find any. But as a consolation prize, I learned a new plant:


Lomatium nudicaule – barestem biscuitroot, barestem desert-parsley, Indian consumption plant, pestle parsnip, wild celery. I have never actually heard any of these common names in common use; I think I’m gonna call it desert parsley to match the way I’m starting to think of this plant in the kitchen.

The fresh leaves at this stage taste a bit like a celery-flavored cough drop – there’s that carrot family flavor, but it’s almost completely overwhelmed by a minty medicinal flavor, not quite eucalyptol but in that vein. Googling up some analyses of the volatile oils from various other Lomatium species just shows a mix of the usual terpenoid suspects common to many plant families. Anyway, from the taste it’s quite obvious why people use it for respiratory ailments.

I took a bit home thinking it might be interesting in soup or with lamb, and then let it dry out in the fridge instead of using it. I think I like it better dried than fresh – the mintiness goes away and it just tastes like a strong parsley or celery leaf.

Traditional food uses focus on younger greens than I was picking, or on the young taproot.

See also: Writeups from herbalists Kahlee Keane and Ryan Drum.

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