Columbia Desert Parsley (Lomatium columbianum)
Early spring Columbia Gorge hikers are treated to several varieties of lomatium, commonly known as desert parsley, spring gold, biscuitroot or cous, the Native American name. Most species are yellow or gold. Columbianum, easily identified by its wine-colored flowers, is only found on the dry rocky slopes of the eastern Columbia River Gorge and Central Washington.
The thick, long taproot of the lomatium genus, needed to sustain the plant in the dry desert conditions where it is found, was a valuable food source for Native Americans, who roasted it, and also ate it raw, and introduced it to early settlers. Lewis and Clark are reported to have bought the root from Native tribes during their journey.