Edible Uses: The bulb-like underground stems, called corms, were an important food for some tribes, and dried bulbs were a popular trade item. They are edible raw, but like onions, they are made sweeter and more easily digestible by cooking. Drying also helps this process. The corms sometimes cause a burning sensation, and too many can cause vomiting. The leaves are also edible raw or cooked, and the fresh, green seed pods are said to taste like string beans when cooked, but most tribes used only the corms. Bears and rodents eat the roots and the seed pods are grazed by deer and elk.
Medicinal Uses: The pulverized root was applied to boils and as a wet dressing on skin sores by the Montana Indians. The Okanagan-Colville tribe used the corms as a treatment for bad colds.