Erythronium grandiflorum

Glacier Lily, Yellow Avalanche Lily, "Indian Potato"

Erythronium grandiflorum Pursh is a widespread herbaceous subalpine lilaceous perennial with an elongated corm-like bulbs. The plant usually bears two basal, lance shaped to elliptical leaves with an erect stem growing to about 15 cm high. Flowers are 5 cm across, often nodding, and yellow in color. Yellow Avalanche Lily usually blooms from April to August depdent upon elevation. 

Sometimes mistaken as a corm, E. grandiflorum bulbs have only a few fleshy, nearly fused leaves or scales. Fresh elongated bulbs have a pale brown to tan and thin tunic.

Cultural Narrative: 

The slender, starchy, corm-like bulbs were among the most important foods for many Native American and First Nation groups of both the Plateau and Coastal regions. When the deep-seated bulbs were harvested (i.e., tough to harvest with modern trowels), the larger bulbs were kept while the smaller were reharvested. Yellow Avalanche Lily bulbs thrive in disturbed environments. They could be eaten immediately by steaming, roasting in hot ashes or boiling. To preserve bulbs, they were softened for a few days before they were peeled, strung, and hung to dry. To prepare the dried bulbs, they were soaked and then boiled or steamed underground until soft and chocolate-brown. 


Location Description: 

Moist upand meadows and open woods. Usually found blooming immediately after snowfields have melted in spring.