xhoqw'o:ls (Wapato)

The wapato, or arrow-leaf as it is sometimes called, is a perennial plant which can grow to almost a metre in height. The tuber, about 4 to 5 centimetres long, is harvested while under water, where the roots of this plant are found. These potatoes would have been harvested in areas with marshy or swampy shorelines, such as Sumas Lake (before it was drained in 1925), or Pitt Meadows. Harvesting is generally from a canoe or by walking around in the water and freeing the wapato with the foot. The best time for this harvest is from May to August, and the wapato can be stored unprocessed for several months. The wapato was a central item in the commerce of the Stó:lō, due to the large volume of the starchy tuber in the Fraser Valley and the rarity of this type of root in other parts of the coast. This plant was a mainstay in the Stó:lō diet and could be used in soups, roasted in ashes, or steamed in a pit.

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