Apiaceae: Carrot Family – Lomatium

Most members of the Apiaceae (carrot) family are characterized by having their flowers arranged in umbels, i.e. with segments radiating from a single point.  The family was formerly called Umbelliferae.  Many have compound umbels.  That is when an umbel contains multiple inflorescences, each of which is itself an umbel.  Umbels may be rounded, flat-topped or concentrated in head-like structures.  Most members of the family have white flowers.  Fennel, Lomatiums, most Sancicles and Tauschia all have yellow flowers.  This page shows Lomatiums, common plants with flat-topped umbels.  To identify them, it helps to study the fruits.

California Lomatium – Lomatium californicum

Blooms:

Apr–June

Plant Height:

30–120 cm

Flower Size:

Medium cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Moist shady slopes

Notes:

Like most lomatiums, this has flat umbelliferous heads with small yellow flowers.  However, unlike other lomatiums, its leaves are larger and quite distinctive, with a noticeable celery smell.  Each leaf is triangular-ovate, generally with 3 major lobes, each coarsely toothed to lobed.  Fruits are 10–15 mm, oblong to ovate with thickened wings.  Two photos on left by Cliff Halverson

Lomatium, California
Lomatium, California
Lomatium, California-3 5240

Lace Parsnip / Woolly-fruited Lomatium – Lomatium dasycarpum subsp. dasycarpum

Blooms:

Mar–June

Plant Height:

10–50 cm

Flower Size:

Medium cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Dry sandy places or stony ground

Notes:

Unusually for a lomatium, flowers are greenish-white rather than the more usual yellow.  The tight leaves have thread-like to linear segments that result in a lacy and slightly woolly appearance. Petals are tomentose and bracts coarsely hairy. The broad-winged fruits are sparsely hairy.

Small-leaved Lomatium / Coast Parsnip – Lomatium parvifolium

Blooms:

Mar–June

Plant Height:

15–40 cm

Flower Size:

Medium cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Coastal

Notes:

The small, broadly toothed leaves with their pointed tips are characteristic of this lomatium.  They are surprisingly variable, even on the same plant, ranging from sharp-lobed to a much more rounded form, both weakly spine-toothed or spine-tipped. Fruits have wings equal to or wider than the body and are notched at the tip.

Common Lomatium – Lomatium utriculatum

Blooms:

Mar–May

Plant Height:

< 50 cm

Flower Size:

Small cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Grassy slopes & flats

Notes:

The leaves of Common Lomatium are highly cut and finely divided.  The base of the petiole has a conspicuous sheath.  Sometimes, calyx lobes surround the flowers. Note the broad wings of the fruit, usually broader than the body.