The abundance of these root foods in Húy̓at today reflects our careful tending of these plant foods over generations. Our ancestors knew that each of the plants growing in the intertidal thrive in a particular elevational zone, depending on their requirements and tolerance for hours inundated and exposure to brackish water. Thus, they artificially terraced the upper intertidal to increase the zone where plants like clover could thrive. Today, these remnant gardens are visible as subtle terracing in the landscape.
Our archaeological excavations of the gardens in central Húy̓at revealed small fragments of stone tools, indicating the gardens were used pre-contact times. Ethnobotanical surveys of Húy̓at indicates that the distribution of clover is closely tied to the density of ancient archaeological sites. Its distribution likely reflects our tending of clover, including tilling the patches and leaving the broken roots as rootstock. We clearly had a mutually beneficial relationship with this important plant – we increased its numbers and distribution and it provided for us a much needed and desired food.
Root garden in Húy̓at showing the narrow strip in the upper intertidal (approximately 5 meters above sea level - masl) where clover is growing in abundance.
Intertidal root garden in central Húy̓at with abundant Pacific silverweed.