Montana Outdoors

May 18, 2011

Camas

Filed under: Wildflowers — Tags: , , , — montucky @ 9:00 pm

Common Camas, Blue Camas

Common Camas or Blue Camas ~ Camassia quamash

Meadow Death Camas

Meadow Death Camas ~ Zigadenus venenosus

Common or Blue Camas was an important food source for Indian tribes in the west and many Indian wars were fought over collecting rights to certain camas meadows.

Meadow Death Camas is a highly poisonous perennial herb. Serious losses can occur to stock grazing in meadows where it is common. Several Indian tribes used the mashed bulbs as arrow poison.

The problem is that the bulbs of the two species are visually nearly identical. I don’t like to think about how the early Indians learned which was edible and which was lethal, but they did and therefore harvested the bulbs of the Blue Camas only while it was in bloom.

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