Skookum Root: Ethnobotany of Hellebore (Veratrum viride) in Northwest British Columbia

  • Chelsey Geralda Armstrong Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC.
Keywords: Ethnobotany, Green False Hellebore, Pacific Northwest, Traditional ecological knowledge, Veratrum viride


This research considers some of the uses and harvest protocols of one of the most important medicinal plants for Indigenous peoples throughout British Columbia, Vertarum viride (skookum root, green false hellebore, Indian poke, Indian hellebore). The medicinal qualities of V. viride are well respected given its equally powerful ability to paralyze and kill. Using botanical, ethnographic, ethnohistoric, and linguistic data, a broad overview of hellebore is provided for the northwest coast of North America, followed by an in-depth consideration of Gitxsan harvest protocol, witnessed through participant observation.

Author Biography

Chelsey Geralda Armstrong, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC.

Chelsey Geralda Armstrong is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institute, Director of the Kitselas Ecocultural Heritage Project, and Publications Liaison for the Society of Ethnobiology. She lives, fishes, and works in Northwest British Columbia.


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How to Cite
Armstrong, C. G. (2018). Skookum Root: Ethnobotany of Hellebore (Veratrum viride) in Northwest British Columbia. Ethnobiology Letters, 9(2), 197-205.
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