Revitalizing knowledge of scwicw’s growing conditions, propagation and preservation

Citation

Sharifi et al. 2022. Revitalizing knowledge of scwicw’s growing conditions, propagation and preservation. NIB Project report.

Abstract

The goals of the project were linked with the Secwépemc Plant Stewardship Strategy, specifically to improve overall well-being of community members by bringing culturally significant plants back to the people. The focus to date has been on scwicw, or glacier lily (Erythronium grandiflorum).
Study sites were established in 2020 in scwicw patches in one location outside of Chase, and at two locations in Mount Revelstoke National Park. This report focuses on studies conducted in 2021 and 2022.

There are several take home messages from this first year of the current project.
First, scwicw appears sensitive to temperature, as the warmer site at Mt. Revelstoke resulted in larger plants, that were more successful in producing viable seeds. Similarly, some of the propagation experiments exhibited temperature sensitivity, where by cooler temperatures led to greater germination success.
Second, there is considerable differences in the habitats from high to low elevation, not just in expected things like temperature, but the abundance and diversity of weedy species, and grass thatch, both of which are much more significant at accessible low elevation sites.
Third, scwicw has specific requirements for propagation, that likely well reflect it’s natural habitat. Seed require long (~1 year) stratification at low temperature (i.e. 4oC). Scwicw bulbs require a short stratification (<4 months at 4oC) and germinate when placed 10 cm deep in pot but temperature need to be kept <10oC. Small bulbs and bulblets are the best options for propagation. Traditional harvest can likely affect characteristics of bulbs and soften the ground.
Fourth, scwicw bulbs appear to be a highly nutritious food source, as would be expected for a species that was once a staple for Interior Indigenous Peoples in BC.
And finally drying of scwicw bulbs was an effective methods of safe preservation, as expected given the long history of this technique in Secwépemc culture.