Native Uses of Plants in the Sacramento Region

Part 5

This is the last in a five-part series describing more about these plants and their uses. The last two plants we’ll check out are in the Lily family: Crown Brodiaea and Bluedicks.

Lilies

Large quantities of the bulbs of these two plants and other lilies were gathered with digging sticks and stored in basket granaries by native peoples throughout most of California.  These bulbs are also a major food source consumed by the Botta’s Pocket Gophers that lives throughout Mather field and other vernal pool grasslands.  

Liliaceae –Lily Family

Crown Brodiaea
Brodiaea coronaria
Mar-May, 12-18 inches, Native

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the more obvious and strikingly beautiful flowering plants in the uplands of the vernal pool prairie, Crown Brodiaea is a member of the Lily family. Its petals in bright shades of blues and purples grow in eye-popping contrast to the surrounding grassland. Native California tribes were known to harvest Brodiaea bulbs, which were an important starch source in the diet for many of the native peoples.  The underground bulbs have a nutty taste and are nutritious.  

Bluedicks
Dichelostemma capitatum
Mar-Apr, 8-16 inches, Native

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also known as Field Cluster Lilies, Bluedicks (another member of the Lily family) is one of the first flowering plants to bloom in April, at the very start of the vernal pool flower phase. They are found in the uplands.  This plant is often going to seed before the grand flower show of the Mather Field vernal pools begins in mid-April. 

For more information on edible and medicinal plants here are some great websites to reference:

www.calflora.org

http://plants.usda.gov/java/

http://www.cnps.org/   

To learn more about California Native American history and their uses of native plants here are a few more interesting sites to explore: 

http://www.lessonsofourland.org/sites/default/files/CA%20food%20teaching_kit.pdf

http://www.maidu.com/maiduculture/culture.html

http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs144p2_063807.pdf

Commands