Lomatium or desert parsley or Indian balsam is an official ‘at risk’ medicinal herb.
What does that Mean? It means we don't have any or few cultivated sources for the herb and that most of it in the trade comes from Wild harvest.
Commonly used in the herbal trade to control respiratory infections before they turn into complications. However few people know of this plant – probably just as well for reasons you will see later in this blog.
If you do use it – you do not need much – its a potent herb and taking excess will give you a rash just to teach you a lesson. Have it dispensed by your herbalist who knows how to offset this.
Its a plant that can live for more than a century in the wild. Rich Cech says of Lomatium
“there is no such thing as sustainable harvest of wild Lomatium. The plant is not renewable within our lifetime”
That means it is endangered in its wild habitat and needs to be cultivated for future harvests. Despite Ricoh's comment above I'm a firm believer in cultivation of all endangered herbs.
Persistently and patiently I've been growing this plant. Its certainly slow however I have found that more regular potting up and a larger pot have helped speed things up a lot.
Hopefully my humble efforts will show the way or provide encouragement so that we can cultivate this herb rather than harvest from the the wild.
For quite a few years the seasons would pass and just as I was wondering if the Lomatium had survived up it pops again.
Having been at the one leaf stage for a couple of years, it then sprouts two leaves. This is progress – in a Lomatium time scale. This plant does not rush or hurry.
So what this about it being lost...?
Well I have tidied up the herb patch and the Lomatium pot is missing! I have labelled it multiple times in the past but the label chucking bird has had its way.
This has happened before... My fingers are crossed... Maybe its still there...
In my defence I was very careful with each pot I emptied out. Always looking for the mysterious roots of a precious unlabeled herb.
So tips on growing this plant – easy to germinate from seed – prick out all seedlings and clearly label the pots. expect the seedling to go dormant is there if a change in heat or soil moisture. Use deep pots, this plant has a hell of a root system.
DO NOT CHUCK OUT THE EMPTY POTS ( a mistake that I made early on)
This plant has seasonal dormancy that comes and goes at irregular times not linked to our normal autumn. Soil mixture should be free draining with some compost added.
Celebrate and appreciate each time it comes to life again !