Photo Credit
Photo courtesy of BLM.

Common camas

Scientific name
Cammassia quamash
Also Known As
Camas
Plant Family
Plant Group
Camases are liliaceous, perennial herbs that grow from an edible bulb.
Identification Hints

Common camas is a stout, robust, 12-28 inches (30-70 cm) tall plant with a dense inflorescence. Camases are liliaceous, perennial herbs that grow from an edible bulb. The leaves are long and narrow, grass-like, and emerge from the base. The flowers are light to deep blue; more than 3 flowers in an inflorescence may be open at one time. Flowers have 6 tepals, 6 stamens, and 3 stigmas. The inflorescence is a spike-like cluster borne on a leafless stem that is held above the leaves. Common camas is distinguished from great camas (Camassia quamash ssp.quamash) by the following: the flowers are slightly irregular, with the lowest tepal curving outward away from the stem; the anthers are bright yellow; the plant is relatively short and stout, with shorter flower stalks and smaller bulbs; and there is no waxy powder on the leaves. Common camas blooms from April through June. The fruits are barrel-shaped to three-angled capsules,splitting into three parts to release many black, angled seeds.

Did You Know?

The bulbs were highly prized by Coast Salish peoples for their creamy potato or baked pear taste.

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