Spring this year in western Montana has been/is anything but usual; very cold, damp, extremely heavy snow up high, and in most cases the wildflowers have been blooming about two weeks later than usual for each species and I have been trying to catch and post as many photos of them as I can. Because they are so small and precious and so often overlooked, yet so intricate, diverse and beautiful it seems that the least I can do is to try to give them a little attention. I’ll try to post a few each day with the date photographed and my best attempts at ID’s until I catch up (or we get the first snow of next winter).
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.