Identification: small perennial plant with a slender stem. Grows in grasslands, sagebrush prairie, open forest; valleys to montane.
Root storage: corm, can have small attached bulbs called bulbets (they have the appearance of small grains of rice).
Leaves: basal, linear, leathery.
Flowers: solitary, bell-shaped, and yellow. Edible.
Grateful Harvest: is done selectively by size where smaller corms and propagules can be replanted. Both the corms and bulbets are edible raw or cooked.
Cultural components: Underground corms were eaten fresh or boiled. Due to their small size, they were considered a good snack-food but not necessarily a staple food. The bulbs are best fresh although could be kept in a root cellar. I have tried refrigeration but they're good for only 5-7 days before molding.
While the Yellowbell is a more common traditional food plant for the Bitterroot Salish, it's relation the Chocolate Lily or Fritillaria atropurpurea (MT species) is a commonly used food plant by many Interior Salish bands. Much of the physiology between these two species of lily (yes the Yellowbell is a lily!) are similar; single flower, slender stems and linear leaves. However, the Chocolate Lily has brown flowers with white or yellow splotches and its corms have more prevalent bulbets. It grows on grassy hills, foothills and plains. Chocolate Lily is prepared the same way as Yellowbells.
Recipe: Sautéed Yellowbell Corms
Gather fresh yellowbell corms and flower-heads if desired.
Wash and remove of of dirt and debris.
Set a frying pan on medium heat.
Add butter and allow to melt and become bubbly.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add yellowbell corms and sauté for about 5-7 minutes.
Remove pan from heat.
Can be eaten alone as a side or as a salad topper!
Nutrition (per 100g)
Plant parts used