Hedysarum lancifolium Rydb.
Hedysarum marginatum Greene
Hedysarum uintahense A.Nelson
Common Name: Liquorice Root
Hedysarum occidentale is a herbaceous perennial plant growing from a deep rootstock; it produces a cluster of erect stems 40 - 70cm tall.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food.
Western N. America - Washington to Montana, south to Utah and Colorado
Dry and often rocky soils of open areas, from the plains to about 2,600 metres[
Hedysarum species generally grow best in a sunny position, though many can tolerate some shade. They are often found in somewhat alkaline soils in the wild, but are usually easy to grow in ordinary garden soils, preferring a deep well-drained sandy loam[
Plants strongly resent root disturbance and should be placed in their permanent positions as soon as possible[
This species is closely related to Hedysarum boreale[
Grows well in the rock garden or border[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
Root - raw or cooked[
]. Long and sweet with a liquorice-like flavour[
]. Used in the spring it is crisp and juicy' but it becomes tough and woody as the season advances.
Seed - sow in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe or in the spring[
]. Stored seed benefits from scarification before sowing in order to speed up and improve germination[
]. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing[
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer.
Division in spring. Great care is needed since the plant dislikes root disturbance[