It appears we’ve unintentionally started a series on native plants of British Columbia. Today’s entry is a good accompaniment to the previous entry on Fritillaria affinis.
Fritillaria affinis has long been known by the scientific name Fritillaria lanceolata, but the name has undergone relatively recent clarification (1980). When Pursh described Fritillaria lanceolata in 1813, he based it in part upon an illustration of Lilium camschatcence (which had already been renamed to Fritillaria camschatcensis in 1809). In other words, not only did the name Fritillaria lanceolata not conform to the general rules of taxonomic nomenclature, but it was also not originally (partially?) based on the species we now refer to as Fritillaria affinis. However, Fritillaria lanceolata became commonly used, for some reason. The name has now been clarified by Josef Robert Sealy, who credited Josef August Schultes (who first recognized the error).
The bulbs of Fritillaria affinis resemble tight clusters of white rice and were eaten by virtually all northwest coastal peoples of North America. The bulbs grow relatively close to the surface and are easily dug-up. Processing methods included cooking by steaming in a cedarwood box or boiling followed by mashing into a paste.