Metéltwecw-kt Es Knúcwetwecw-kt
"Everyone come together to help one another."

​​​Secwepemc Cultural Education Society

Secwepmec Education Training Centre


Wild bergamot, Monarda fistulosa
The plant was used as an insect repellent. It was made into a tea the same way as the wild mint.

Stinging nettle, Urtica dioica
The leaves were cooked and eaten as greens when young.  The cooked greens were a source of A, C, D as well as iron and potassium for the Secwepemc people.  This plant was sometimes called ‘ Indian spinach.’  The Secwepemc plastered stinging nettles over sores and bruises. This treatment was very painful, but the pain went away.  They also used nettles medicinally as a counter-irritant and took decoctions of roots and leaves internally for a wide variety of ailments such as those of the kidney, liver, gallbladder, lung, bladder, and diabetes.

Devils Club, Oplopanax horridus
The plant was used for many ailments, such as stomach ulcers, thyroid conditions, syphilis, diabetes and as an emetic, cough syrup and a laxative.  Various parts of the plant were ground into powders for external poultices for arthritis and rheumatism or fresh pieces were laid on open pieces.

Labrador tea, Ledum groenlandicum, secwsqeqxe7ten
The leaves were used fresh or dried and were boiled to make an aromatic tea that was a favorite beverage among the Secwepemc people.  The Secwepemc name secwsqeqxe7ten, meaning ' bathing-dog-stuff, ' is derived from hunters who long ago washed the noses and mouths of their tracking dogs so the prey could not smell them.  The tea was also used as a heart medicine or for indigestion and was given to a mother after childbirth to ease the pain and relax her.

Black tree lichen or tree moss, Alectoria fremontii, wile
The lichen was widely used amongst the Secwepemc people.  They collected the moss from the Ponderosa pine or lodgepole Pine. In an emergency the lichen could be eaten raw but it was better when it was steamed in a pit overnight.  The lichen was then cut into loaves or dried into cakes for later use. The cooked moss was usually cooked with wild onions, or mixed with Saskatoon berries or Saskatoon juice after cooked.  False whiskers was used for decorating dance masks and especially children, for masquerading.

Tarragon, Artemisia dracunculus
The Secwepemc used tarragon mixed with white clematis to heal sprains, fractures and bruises.  The branches were burned as a smudge to drive away mosquitoes and other biting insects. The branches were used as matting to sit on.

Smooth sumac, Rhus glabra
The Northern Secwepemc smoked or dried sumac like tobacco.

Poison Ivy, Rhus radicans Toxicodendron rydbergii
The Secwepemc bathed affected skin with the boiled tops of balsamroot.

Edible thistle, Cirsium edule,
The Secwepemc ate the roots of first year, non-flowering plants, which they report to taste like sunflower roots.  The roots of most thistles are edible when cooked and can provide nutritious food in an emergency.  The name for this plant in Secwepemc and Nlaka’pmx is derived from their word for ‘flatulate’ because the roots were known to cause gas if too many were eaten.

Great burdock, Arctium lappa
The Secwepemc used the root of the plant as a blood purifier.

Strawberry-blite, Chenopodium capitatum
Interior native people used the intensely red fruits of this plant as a source of red dye.

Northern black current, Ribes hudsonianum
The Secwepemc ate the berries.

Black gooseberry, Ribes lacustre, stcwelcucwel'
Black gooseberries were eaten fresh or cooked by all Interior native groups.  The people did not use large quantities and seldom gathered enough to store for winter use.  Combs were carved from the wood.

Squaw current, Ribes cereum
The Secwepemc ate them but considered them tasteless.  The Secwepemc and the Nlaka’pmx also considered them a tonic and they ate them to relieve diarrhea.

Yellow bell, Fritillaria pudica
The yellow bell is a small, delicate flower that appears soon after snowmelt.  The Secwepemc ate the yellow bell bulbs when available in late spring or summer.  They were eaten raw, boiled or steamed.  They sometimes stored them in underground pits with “Indian Potatoes”.

Wild sarsaparilla, Aralia nudicaulis
The Secwepemc made a tea to treat colds.

Spring beauty, also known as ‘Indian potato’, Claytonia lanceolata, skwenkwinem
The Secwepemc ate the small spherical corms by unearthing them just after they flowered from late May to late June.  The potatoes could be eaten fresh, dried, boiled with little water or stored in earth pits insulating them from freezing.  Often the Secwepemc strung them on a line of sinew, buckskin, or Indian hemp or other plant fibre, and hung them up near a chimney or fire hole to smoke them.  After several weeks, the corms could be stored or eaten without further preparation.

Wapata /Swamp potato, Sagittaria latifolia
Interior native peoples collected the tubers which they called ‘lower valley wild potato’ or ‘swamp potato.’  The tubers were baked and have a sweet taste somewhat like chestnuts.

Wild strawberries, Fragaria virginiana,
The fruit of both wood strawberry and wild strawberry were highly prized by all Interior native peoples.  The strawberries ripen from May to July, depending on elevation and latitude. They usually ate the berries fresh, although some people mashed and dried them in cakes, uncooked for winter use.  The dried leaves were steeped to make a tea for diarrhea, or they were used to flavor cooked roots.  Wild strawberry is also called blue-leaved strawberry.

Sagebrush mariposa lily, Calochortus macrocarpus
Native people and early settlers harvested the thick fleshy bulbs in early spring, from April to June, usually before the plant flowered. They ate them raw, steamed, boiled or pit-cooked.  They were dug before the plants flowered in late spring and early summer.

Red raspberry, Rubus idaeus R. strigosus
The Secwepemc ate the berries fresh or made into cakes by drying in the sun.  They made a decoction from the roots as a stomach remedy.

Giant wildrye, Elymus cinereus
The Interior people split the stems of giant wildrye and used them to decorate split cedar-root baskets.

Canada goldenrod, Solidago canadensis
An infusion was made as a bath for the mother at childbirth.

Fern-leaved desert parsley, Lomatium dissectum

The Secwepemc ate the young shoots and roots, although they reported them bitter.  The dried roots were often steam-cooked together with the bulbs of yellow glacier lily.

Large-fruited desert parsely, Lomatium macrocarpum, qweq’wile
They dug up the roots in spring before the plants flowered.  The root has a strong peppery taste and was eaten raw, boiled, cooked in pits or dried for later use.  An infusion could be made to treat heart problems.

Arctic lupine, Lupinus arcticus
Silky lupine, Lupinus sericeus 
Southern people noted that marmots were fat enough to eat when the lupines were in bloom.

Bluebunch wheatgrass, Agropyron spicatum Elymus spicatus
The Secwepemc used layers of this grass for drying soopolallie berries.

Fireweed, Epilobium angustifolium
Fireweed was sought out in the spring before they bloomed. They broke off the stems, stripped off the leaves, split open the outer part longitudinally with the fingernails and ate the pith raw.  Sometimes they boiled or steamed whole stems. Some people used the leafy stems of Fireweed as flavoring or matting in root-cooking pits or earth ovens.  Fireweed was used externally as a medicine against eczema.

Water parsnip, Sium suave
The Secwepemc people ate the sweet, finger-like roots.  They were dug up in the spring, before the plants bloomed, and again in the summer, and they were eaten raw, fried or steamed.  Water parsnip is also called swamp parsnip, wild carrot (distinct carrot flavor) and wild saccharin.  The Secwepemc people considered the flowers poisonous. They used to dig the roots in the wet meadows around Kamloops and Shuswap Lake.

Scouring-rush, Equisetum hyemale
The Secwepemc used the plant as a women’s medicine to ease labour.

Bitterroot, Lewisia rediviva
The Secwepemc dug up the roots in early spring, just before the plant flowered as the leaves were developing and before the root became bitter.  The roots were peeled and cooked or dried for winter use.  Bitterroot was considered a valuable plant and it figured prominently in trade between the Southern and the Northern Secwepemc.  A favorite dish was a pudding of bitterroot, saskatoon berries and salmon eggs.

White clematis, Clematis ligusticifolia
The Secwepemc mixed white clematis with wild tarragon to make a poultice that was used to alleviate pain from bruises, sprains, and broken bones.

Common Plantain, Plantago major
Almost all Interior people made a poultice from plantain leaves to soothe cuts, sores, burns, and bee stings.

Coyote tobacco, Nicotiana attenuata
The plant was used for a urinary aid.  The leaves were smoked.  Coyote tobacco mixed with kinnicknick and red willow was smoked at ceremonies.

Sagebrush buttercup, Ranunculus glaberrimus
The blooming buttercup was an indicator to the Secwepemc that it was the arrival of the spring.

Wavy-leaved thistle, C. undulatum
The thistle was used as a gastrointestinal aid; the roots were used for stomach and body ailments.  The young roots were roasted and eaten.