Montana Outdoors

May 24, 2012

Mid-May

American Vetch

American Vetch, Vicia americana, May 19

Annual Hawksbeard

Annual Hawksbeard, Crepis tectorum, May 19

Midget Phlox,

Midget Phlox,

Midget Phlox, Phlox gracilis, Microsteris gracilis, May 20

Common Camas, Blue Camas

Common Camas, Blue Camas

Common Camas, Blue Camas

Common Camas, Blue Camas, Camassia quamash, May 20

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.

June 7, 2010

Camas & Camas

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.

Common CamasCommon camas, Blue Camas, Small camas, Camassia quamash, Lily family

Common Camas

Common Camas

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!

Death CamasDeath camas, Zigadenus venenosus, Lily family

May 30, 2008

Camas

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.

Common Camas

Common Camas

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.

Common Camas

Common Camas

Common Camas

Common Camas

Field of camas

USDA Plants

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