Montana Outdoors

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.

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


  1. Gorgeous! Thank you!


    Comment by Patia — May 30, 2008 @ 9:07 pm

  2. 400 acres! I can’t even begin to imagine…


    Comment by Bo — May 30, 2008 @ 9:14 pm

  3. I remember you asked about Camas, Patia. I thought about you as soon as I saw that meadow. Well, I’m sure you know that area and have probably been there many times. I remember seeing a huge herd of elk in that meadow way back when.


    Comment by montucky — May 30, 2008 @ 9:47 pm

  4. Bo,

    It’s a large meadow and 400 might be conservative. It could be a whole section (640 acres). It all looks about like the last photo and the stream is only a few hundred yards away. The fishing’s not as good now as it used to be but there were some very large trout in that area. Living there was easy a hundred years ago, at least in summer and fall.


    Comment by montucky — May 30, 2008 @ 9:54 pm

  5. Gosh the colors are just amazing….now you have me curious about what the flowers of death camas look like 😮


    Comment by Tabbie — May 31, 2008 @ 12:03 am

  6. I just happen to have a photo of death camas, here. There’s no mistaking the blossoms, but the rest of the plants are identical.


    Comment by montucky — May 31, 2008 @ 8:15 am

  7. Up close, it’s a pretty freakly looking flower. But the color is nice.


    Comment by scienceguy288 — May 31, 2008 @ 9:55 am

  8. Yes, it does look kind of “wild & wooly” but it sure adds some nice color to a meadow.


    Comment by montucky — May 31, 2008 @ 11:39 am

  9. I can’t think offhand where it might be, but I might recognize it.


    Comment by Patia — May 31, 2008 @ 9:38 pm

  10. I’m sure you would. It’s about at bear creek, probably 3 – 4 miles above where the Little Thompson flows into Thompson River.


    Comment by montucky — May 31, 2008 @ 10:05 pm

  11. Camas is such a beautiful and delicate flower – it’s quite a task to find one that the blossoms have not been beaten up by the wind. I personally love the blue dotted in the green in the last shot – a familiar sight and lovely that you captured it so effortlessly. p.s. I agree at what the light does to the blossom it seems like a trick of the eye actually you caught that very well. Beautiful shots!


    Comment by aullori — June 1, 2008 @ 10:06 pm

  12. It’s another plant that is beautiful and has made a contribution to the food supply over the years, although probably not so much as of late, but still… I’m really happy to see them flourishing in areas as large as that meadow!


    Comment by montucky — June 1, 2008 @ 10:22 pm

  13. Beautiful! I especially love the meadowful of them! I’m hoping to see some myself when I go camping in the Sierras in a few weeks, as spring should be in full swing there. It’s pretty well gone from these parts now, wahhh!


    Comment by Adam R. Paul — June 4, 2008 @ 9:59 am

  14. I hope they’ll be in bloom for your camping trip! It’s sad to see such things disappear from the landscapes isn’t it?


    Comment by montucky — June 4, 2008 @ 12:51 pm

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