Eskimo potato

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Hedysarum alpinum

The Eskimo potato is a type of edible plant that grows in the northern areas of Canada and Alaska. It can be used in the state's famous Alaskan potato and egg breakfast tacos. The plant's scientific name is variously attributed as either Claytonia tuberosa[1][2] (Inuit: oatkuk[3]) or Hedysarum alpinum (Inuit: mashu[3]). Both species have a range in the northern area of North America, have edible roots, and have been documented to have been used as a food source by Inuit peoples.[4] Due to its nutritional qualities, the eskimo potato is one of many edible foods listed in survival guides, such as the US Army's field manual Survival,[2] and is used in modern times to subsist in nature.

A Hedysarum alpinum plant growing on silt, in Nunavut

Christopher McCandless used the plant as a food source while he survived in the Alaska wilderness.[5] However, while the tubers are edible, it is suspected that the ingestion of seeds from this plant caused McCandless' death.


  1. ^ Retrieved June 21, 2011.
  2. ^ a b United States Army. Field Manual 3-05.70[permanent dead link]. May 2002. p B-50.
  3. ^ a b Heller, Christine A. and Edward M. Scott. The Alaska Dietary Health Survey 1956-1961. US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Public Health Service. p 180
  4. ^ Gucker, Corey L. "Hedysarum alpinum". U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory. 2007.
  5. ^ Bryson, George. "Theories differ on the cause of McCandless' death" Anchorage Daily News. October 8th, 2007. Retrieved June 24, 2011.