May 24, 2012
May 18, 2011
Common Camas or Blue Camas ~ Camassia quamash
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.
June 7, 2010
While on a fishing trip to Thompson River today I found that the Blue Camas are blooming along the Little Thompson River. The bulbs of the Blue (or Common) Camas are starchy, nutritious, have a high sugar content and were an important food source for the Indians in this area. Many battles and indeed wars, were fought over collecting rights to certain camas meadows.
There are also other bulbs that closely resemble those of the Blue Camas, but the bulbs of the Death Camas are highly toxic. Prudence dictated that Camas bulbs were harvested while the plants were in bloom to avoid confusing the two types!
May 30, 2008
This spring I looked all over for the Common Camas or Blue Camas. It’s evil sibling the Death Camas was everywhere but the blue eluded me until on May 25th I was happy to find just a few in the most unlikely place and got these shots (from under an umbrella). It seems that camas like many other wildflowers has many moods and plays a variety of character roles depending on the light conditions.
Common Camas Camassia quamash.
Then yesterday on a Morell hunting trip I noticed that there was a light blue tint to a huge meadow along the Thompson River road about 25 miles north of Hwy 200, turned the Jeep onto a tiny road that led into the meadow and there found at least 400 acres of camas in bloom. I’ve read that many Indian wars were fought over the rights to certain camas meadows because camas was a very important food source for them. The bulbs of the camas are starchy, nutritious, have a high sugar content, and can be eaten raw, baked, boiled, roasted or dried. They should be collected only during the blooming season to avoid confusing them with the very similar-looking but poisonous bulbs of the Death Camas.