We are following the treatment in the USDA 'Plants Database' (https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=PECA24 accessed 02/10/2018). Some other treatments retain this species in Psoralea as Psoralea castorea S.Watson.
Psoralea castorea S.Watson
Common Name: Beaver Indian Breadroot
Pediomelum castoreum is a low-growing, erect, herbaceous perennial plant growing from a deep-rooted, spindle-shaped taproot that can be 5 - 8cm long and 1 - 3cm wide; the plant usually only produces a single stem 2 - 5cm tall, sometimes with decumbent branches 10cm or more long.
This is one of several related species that provide an edible, nutritious root and, as such, was commonly harvested for food by the native N. Americans. It is still often used as a wild food.
Although no specific mention of toxicity for this species has been found, at least some members of this genus are known to contain furanocoumarins, particularly psoralen and angelicin. These compounds can be found in low concentrations in many common foods including citrus fruirs, celery, parsley and parsnips. Ingestion or skin application of these compounds in larger quantities can cause skin photosensitization followed by hyperpigmentation[
Southwestern N. America - California, Nevada, Arizona.
Dry sandy flats and washes, at elevations from 500 - 900 metres in California[
Succeeds in an ordinary garden soil[
]. Requires a well-drained soil in a sunny position[
Plants are very intolerant of root disturbance, they are best planted out into their permanent positions whilst still small[
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[
]. A good size[
]. Rich in starch, the root can also be dried and ground into a powder then used in soups or with cereals for making bread etc[
]. The spindle-shaped root is 5 - 8cm long and 1 - 3cm thick.
Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water, ensuring the seed has swollen before sowing.
Sowing outdoors in situ is probably the safest way to start this plant off. If doing this, and seed stocks are in short supply, sow the seed in early spring around 5 - 10mm deep and place a moderate sized clear glass or plastic jar over the seed to help protect it from predation. Remove the jar once the plant is growing well.
Alternatively, sow the soaked seed in early to mid spring in a greenhouse. Either sow the seed in individual pots or pot up the young seedlings as soon as possible in order to avoid root disturbance. Grow them on in the pots until planting out in their final positions. It is usually impossible to transplant this species without fatal damage to the root[
Division in spring. With great care since the plant resents root disturbance. It is virtually impossible to divide this species successfully[