Roots

Machu
Iñupiaq Name: Machu
phonetic spelling: Ma-chew
plural: Machut
translation /other information none known
English Name: Eskimo potato
Scientific Name

Hedysarum alpinum

Source:

L.


The Eskimo Potato is found on the river bars of the creeks surrounding Golovin. I found the plant at Kachavik Creek and dug up the root. The leaves are similar to peas and beans as they are in the same legume family. The flowers are purplish and grow in a linear row about 5-6 inches long. The roots are thick, about 2 inches in diameter, and grow about 5-6 inches deep in the ground.

Machu is an important plant that most people in Golovin use and collect every fall or early spring. The root of the plant is dug up and eaten raw with seal oil or cooked like potatoes. Maggie Olson said that her mama would use machu in soup if they did not have any potatoes. I dug some up and chewed them. They were quite tasty and I plan to use them at my home near Manley Hot Springs, Alaska.

Hulten cites the use of machu by the Native people of Alaska, as well as the bears and mice. (Hulten, p. 668)

Machu growing on the banks of Kachavik creek.
The knife in the middle helps to show the relative height of the plant.