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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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squawroot a name applied by European colonists to various medicinal and edible roots which they found being used by the Indians in N. America. As Quinn (1938) observed, ‘There were countless “squawroots”, for the colonists bestowed this convenient name upon any root they saw a squaw digging.’

Some tubers of the western USA which were important to the Indians and bore this name were also called yampa, Indian potato, wild caraway, and ipo. They are of the genus Perideridia, and are related to the carrot. Their foliage, like that of the carrot, is referred to as Queen Anne’s lace. S. and M. Thompson (1972) state that all have edible tubers, resembling carrots in texture and flavour, and that the most palatable is P. gairdneri; P. bolanderi has a spicier, radish-like taste. The whitish tubers measure up to 5 cm (2") long and under 1 cm (0.3") thick. They are best baked, and do not have to be peeled, as the skins are tender.