Other common name: Inuit nuts
Scientific name: Bistorta vivipara
Inuktitut name: Sapangaralannguat, turlait, tuqtait, Inuit
photo: Viviparous Knotweed (Bistorta vivipara), Grimsdalen, Rondane National Park, Norway
leaves and shoots are edible raw.
rhizome can be eaten raw.
rhizome can be steeped in water, roasted/dried, and ground into flour.
rhizome is suitable for use as a potherb.
seeds are edible, either roasted whole or ground into meal/flour.
small bulblets can be eaten raw.
plant is rich in vitamin C.
varieties in the Pacific Northwest include American bistort (Bistorta bistortoides) and Alpine bistort (Bistorta vivipara).
grows in moist, open areas on montane, alpine, and subalpine slopes.
warning: eating raw plants in large quantities can cause diarrhea.
The bulbils sometimes start to develop leaves even before they drop off the mother
plant. In fact, if you pick some Alpine bistort and put it in a glass of water, you can
watch the bulbils grow their tiny leaves, as they get ready to drop off. Once they drop
off, try planting some and see what happens!
The Inuit name, Sapangaralannguat, means, “imitation small beads.” The
underground parts are small, about the size of almonds, and they are best dug before
the plants begin to put out leaves in the spring. In Iqaluit, they are called Inuit nuts
and are said to taste a bit like almonds. The Inuit eat the leaves and bulbils, and also
dig up the rhizome, which can be eaten raw or cooked.