Herb: Avalanche Lily


Latin name: Erythronium grandiflorum


Family: Liliaceae (Lily Family)



Medicinal use of Avalanche Lily:

The pulverized root was applied to boils and as a wet dressing on skin sores.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Bulb


Height:
15 cm
(6 inches)

Flovering:
April

Habitat of the herb:

Sagebrush, open woodland and grassy mountain slopes, sometimes to the tree line. Rich moist soil along the banks of streams, shaded woods and sub-alpine meadows, often in large patches.

Edible parts of Avalanche Lily:

Bulb - raw or cooked. The bulbs are usually harvested in the spring as the first leaves appear above ground, they can be stored for some months in a cool place. The raw bulb has a slightly bitter milky taste, the texture is cool and moist inside and so the North American Indians liked eating them on hot days. The cooked bulb has a more starchy texture and a sweet flavour. Stored bulbs develop a sweeter flavour when cooked than fresh bulbs. The Indians always drank water after eating the bulbs because they believed that otherwise they would get sick. Large quantities can have an emetic effect. The bulbs can also be dried for later use. Leaves - raw or cooked. Eating the leaves will greatly reduce the vigour of the bulb, so can only be recommended in times of emergency. Young seedpods - raw or cooked. The cooked pods taste like French beans.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a shady position in a cold frame. Water lightly in summer, it should germinate in autumn or winter. Stored seed requires a period of cold stratification. Sow as early in spring as possible in a cold frame. Sow the seed thinly so that it will not be necessary to prick them out for their first year of growth. Give an occasional liquid feed to the seedlings to make sure that they do not become nutrient deficient. When the plants are dormant, pot up the small bulbs putting 2 - 3 bulbs in each pot. Grow them on in a shady position in the greenhouse for another 2 3 years and then plant them out into their permanent positions when they are dormant in late summer. Division of the bulbs in the summer as the leaves die down. Larger bulbs can be replanted immediately into their permanent positions, but it is best to pot up smaller bulbs and grow them on in a shady position in a greenhouse for a year before planting them out when dormant in late summer.

Cultivation of Avalanche Lily:

Sagebrush, open woodland and grassy mountain slopes, sometimes to the tree line. Rich moist soil along the banks of streams, shaded woods and sub-alpine meadows, often in large patches.

Known hazards of Erythronium grandiflorum:

Skin contact with the bulbs has been known to cause dermatitis in sensitive people.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.