From Tillage to Table: The Indigenous Cultivation of Geophytes for Food in California

  • Anderson M
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Abstract

-One of the oldest forms of tillage in the world is the digging of subterranean organs of wild plants for food and other purposes. Many areas were managed for increased densities and abundances of wild plants with edible corms, bulbs, tubers, and rhizomes. The horticultural techniques of digging, replanting, and sparing, in conjunction with larger-scale habitat management, created ecological effects at the species, population, community, and landscape levels . California provides a vivid example of an area where tillage was an important element in a comprehensive land management system that was in place for millennia. It is hypothesized that native California tillage activities mimicked natural disturbances with which plants coevolved, and played an ecological role that is now vacant in many wildlands, where Native Americans can no longer harvest and manage plants. Their land management system needs to be studied, described, interpreted, and experimentally mimicked to better understand indigenous disturbance regimes. It is suggested that some wildland areas would benefit from the reintroduction of management and harvesting regimes that authentically mimic indigenous techniques.

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  • M. Kat Anderson

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