Successful balsamroot seed collection requires good seed heads: those with many seeds remaining and no worms.

Successful balsamroot seed collection requires good seed heads: those with many seeds remaining and no worms.

Did you know that it takes an average of 10 years for balsamroot grown from seed to develop its first flower? And that a mature balsamroot plant can be decades old? Plant expert Barbara Robinson shared these remarkable facts when we visited our Four Sisters property for a wildflower-seed collection workshop in May. Barbara’s been collecting and cultivating balsamroot seed in The Dalles for the last 20 years. Our half-day together yielded a few pounds of ripe seed, which are destined to improve the meadows at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center. More importantly, Barbara showed us the immense dedication that’s necessary to restore balsamroot to meadows that have been degraded, especially by grazing. It’s a process that requires decades of patience and just the right conditions. For me, this knowledge makes standing on Four Sisters, within an old growth meadow of mature balsamroot, feel even more remarkable that it already did.  –Sam Schongalla