wild sunflower

by underswansea


Keeping with the weeks foraging theme, this edible plant is called xaⱡ in the Ktunaxa language.

It is also called many other names; arrow leaved balsam root, heart shaped arnica and sunflower, which is fitting as it is a member of the sunflower family.

The plant appears in the early spring and grows about 18″ tall.

It grows on the dry benches over the Columbia River. Many of the plants can be found in the bush regrowing after recent (the last 50 years) forest fires.


The entire plant is edible. The bud stocks can be peeled and eaten. The leaves can be consumed, but enjoyable only when very young. The taproot can extend down over three feet. It can be peeled and eaten raw or cooked. Even the small, oily seeds can be consumed, if you can beat the birds to them!

All in all a very versatile plant. It must have been valued by First Nations people because of it’s prevalence and early spring arrival.