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Aatunaq – Wild Rhubarb; Sourdock
Aatunat qiurtut. – The sourdock are ready.
Sourdock is particularly prized in Alutiiq communities. This large herb produced thick stems and long leaves. It grows four feet tall and is widespread in the Kodiak Archipelago. Sourdock can be found in wet meadows, on slopes, and in disturbed areas. Roadsides and in vacant lots are good places to collect this plant.
Alutiiqs traditionally gather sourdock leaves and stems in May and June, before the plant flowers and becomes tough. The leaves can be eaten fresh or stored for later use. In the past, Alutiiqs preserved quantities of cooked sourdock in seal oil for winter consumption. Raw berries, especially blackberries, or chocolate lily roots were often added. Today, sourdock is made into jams and pies, boiled and served as a vegetable, and added to soups. It stores well in the freezer and can be used all winter long as a vegetable or condiment.