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    Author(s): M. Kat Anderson; Frank K.   Lake
    Date: 2016
    Source: Fremontia. 44(3): 44-51
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Pacific Southwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (1.0 MB)


    California supported a great diversity of plants with edible underground storage organs available to Indian tribes. Together, plant foods, fish and meat made up an indigenous diet that was well-rounded, diverse, and relatively secure. The edible underground parts possessed by these plants are classified as bulbs, corms, taproots, tubers and rhizomes, and when conditions turn unfavorable (too cold or too dry), the above-ground stems die back and the underground organs remain alive. Botanists and ecologists call the plants that employ this strategy geophytes. Indians often call them Indian potatoes or “root foods” because they are hidden under the ground. Geophytes were an important source of food for indigenous people throughout California.

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    Anderson, M. Kat; Lake, Frank K. 2016. Beauty, bounty, and biodiversity: the story of California Indian’s relationship with edible native geophytes. Fremontia. 44(3): 44-51.


    California Indians, Geophytes, Root foods, Indian potatoes

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