Perideridia gairdneri subsp. borealis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Apiales
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Perideridia

About 12, see text.

Perideridia is a small genus of plants in the parsley family. Plants in this genus are known generally as yampah or yampa. They are native to western North America. Similar in appearance to other plants belonging to the family Apiaceae, they have umbels of white flowers.


The plants have a unique appearance for members of the parsley family, and are tall (1–3 feet) and grasslike, with threadlike leaves 1–6 inches long that resemble blades of grass. The plants effectively mimic tall grass and are virtually invisible until they flower, since they tend to grow in grassy meadows, and prefer full sunlight. Like most members of the parsley family, yampah produces umbels of white flowers. The small roots of yampah are about the size of a large unshelled peanut.

Distribution and habitat

The plants are widely distributed in moist open meadows and hillsides up to 7,500 feet (2,300 m) across Western North America and Northern Mexico.[1]


Perideridia gairdneri was an important staple crop of Native Americans in Western North America, and was relished by American Indians to the point the plants were over-harvested to extinction in many areas. The nutlike roots of the plant are crunchy and mildly sweet, and resemble in texture and flavor water chestnuts.

Yampah roots were either baked or steamed, and were reported to have excellent flavor and nutritional qualities. The seeds of yampah were used as a seasoning and resemble caraway seeds in flavor. Yampah roots contain rapidly assimilatable carbohydrates, and were used by hunters and runners as a high energy food to enhance physical endurance.

Uncooked yampah roots are a gentle laxative if consumed in excess and were used medicinally for this purpose.[1]

Selected species


  1. 1 2 Gregory L. Tilford (1997). Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West. Mountain Press Publishing. ISBN 978-0-87842-359-0.
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