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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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bulbs of plants are used for food, the obvious example being those of the onion family. Plants of related families also often have bulbs (or corms: a distinction unimportant to cooks) which are or used to be eaten, especially by N. American Indians and in Asia.

The common lily (Lilium spp) exists in many wild forms and cultivated varieties, nearly all of which have edible bulbs, though not all are palatable. Apart from the American Indians, the Japanese make some use of lily bulbs in traditional dishes. They are known as yurine. Yamayuri and oniyuri are cultivated for the purpose. But there are more important edible plants in the lily family. These include camas, formerly a staple food of the north-west of the USA. Emerson (1908) records that the Tatars of C. Asia took advantage of a mouse, Mus socialis, which had the habit of collecting lily and other bulbs in a cache for its own use. The Tatars would rob the cache.