Hiýáḿ Project

The Hiýáḿ Project is a collaboration with Satinflower Nurseries that facilitates thousands of seeds planted on Indigenous lands.

Hiýáḿ translates to ‘return home.' We chose this name to signify what it means to welcome Indigenous plants onto the land and the ways that plants lead us home, to ourselves, to the land, and to our families.

For our 3rd annual Hiýáḿ Project, we are helping to contribute K’exmin seeds to Indigenous communities. K’exmin is the Squamish name for Bare-stem Desert Parsley.

The seeds of this plant are one of the most highly regarded spiritual and physical medicines for many Indigenous communities within its range.

In support of this project, we offered a beautiful gift to customers who placed an order with Skwalwen of $60 or more.

The gift was a stunning art card featuring artwork by Sarah Jim, a visual artist from the village of Tseycum in W̱SÁNEĆ. Sarah also created the cover and illustrations for Held by the Land, the bestselling book by Skwalwen founder Leigh Joseph.

The card illustration is of K’exmin. This is a beautiful piece of art to frame and cherish.

About K’exmin / Bare-Stem Desert Parsley

HABITAT: The lacy foliage and yellow flowers of k’exmin have a special beauty. This species thrives in a wide range of habitats, from dry, open, rocky or grassy slopes, and dunes, to seasonally moist meadows and open forests. 

K’exmin often grows in traditionally managed camas meadow ecosystems and its presence in these meadows is concentrated on Vancouver Island, Guld and San Juan Islands, Puget Sound, and Willamette Valley.

The growing range generally extends from southern BC to California, east to southwestern Alberta, and south to the Great Basin regions in Oregon, Nevada, and Utah.

GROWING & TIMING: As k’exmin is a culturally important plant food and medicine that is difficult to find and harvest due to habitat loss, it's important that you do not wild harvest this plant. If you live in an area where the plant holds cultural importance, a wonderful offering is to grow it in your garden and offer to grow extra for the local Indigenous community. Leaves can be harvested in spring, and seeds are ready in the late summer/fall. 

PLANT GIFTS: K’exmin leaves are celery-flavoured, rich in vitamin C, and can be eaten fresh or used to season cooking. The seeds have a multitude of uses, including treating sore throats, coughs and headaches, as well as being burned as an incense for cleansing spaces. This plant is connected to many ceremonial and spiritual practices for Indigenous Peoples.

Past Hiýáḿ Projects

In 2021 and 2022 respectively, in partnership with Satinflower Nurseries, we donated Coastal Mugwort and Stinging Nettle seeds to our partnering Indigenous communities.

Our mainland partners have included include Squamish Nation Teen Centre,Totem Hall, Harmony Garden, ethnobotanist and educator Cease Wyss, and Cultural Journeys ~ a school for Indigenous learners.

Our Vancouver Island partners have included Scia'new First Nation, PEPAKEN HAUTW, Victoria Native Friendship Centre, Tseycum and Pauquachin First Nations, NIL T'UO Child & Family Services, and the Coast Salish Plant Nursery; Wild Bird Trust of British Columbia.

About Ts'exts'ix (Stinging Nettle)

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) is a tall, rhizomatous perennial that is an important plant for people and also a host plant for several native butterflies.

RANGE: Throughout the Pacific Northwest, Stinging Nettle is found growing in abundance from Alaska, through British Columbia as far south as Oregon. 

HABITAT: Found growing in rich, moist soil along streams, rivers, meadows and open forest, Stinging Nettle thrives in disturbed habitats such as village sites, roadsides and barnyards. It grows in full sun to part shade in a variety of moist habitats with rich soils. 

PARTS OF THE PLANTS USED: New spring shoots and leaves

PROCESSING: The stinging hairs of nettle require processing ahead of ingestion. The stinging properties are neutralized by steaming, drying, freezing, blending or heating up in oil or blanching water. 

Benefits of Stinging Nettle

Stinging Nettle is rich in chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals, protein, and amino acids. It is considered a super food and a very nutritious spring green.

The plant has antihistamine properties that help with seasonal allergies when taken as a tea.

When utilized topically, either fresh or dried and infused into oil or tea, the plant carries anti-inflammatory properties that can help with sore muscles and joints.

Stinging Nettle is highly antioxidant, making it a nutritious food to consume to support overall immunity and health.

It's also also an incredible source of fiber to make strong cordage and the plant can be used to create a green dye. 

Beneficial to Butterflies

Stinging Nettle is a very important butterfly plant throughout its range. Many species of butterfly require Stinging Nettle as food for their caterpillars. Butterflies lay their eggs on nettle leaves throughout the spring and summer. When the eggs hatch, the young caterpillars eat the leaves, and then form a chrysalis to mature into adult butterflies. 

Butterfly species that depend on nettle include the Satyr Anglewing, Milbert's tortoiseshell, and West Coast lady.

How to Grow Stinging Nettle

Stinging Nettle should be planted in fall and can be directly sown by seed onto bare soil in your garden or into containers.

Nettle is rhizomatous, meaning it spreads below ground by underground stems. If you don't want it to spread, plant in a container, raised bed, or space bordered by a natural barrier.

Stinging Nettle prefers rich soils, so try adding compost or manure to the container. Once mature, Stinging Nettle can be easily divided and moved or shared with others. Early spring is a good time to make divisions. 

Sustainable Harvest

Each year around late March through to mid-May is ts’exts’ix (Stinging Nettle)  harvesting time in Squamish.

It is best harvested for eating when the young shoots are less than 1 ft (30.5 cm) tall and still have a purple tinge to the leaves, as they are at their most tender.

Nettles are very easy to grow in a garden, which is the most sustainable way to harvest this wonderful plant. The stems are gathered for fiber in September.

Along with native butterflies depending on nettle to lay their eggs on the leaves, birds enjoy the seeds of Nettle each fall. As a result, it is important to remember to leave enough of the plant for other non-human life. 

*** Warning: Do not harvest nettles for food or tea once they have flowered as they develop gritty particles called cystoliths that can irritate the urinary tract.

What you need to harvest ts’exts’ixGloves, scissors or clippers, basket or cloth bag

Learn more about the spring harvest of Stinging Nettle from Skwalwen founder and ethnobotanist Leigh Joseph here.