Montana Outdoors

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

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The Ladyslippers

After a very strange winter, the blooming schedule of many of our wildflowers has been different this spring. I feared that I had missed these or that they would not have a good year: neither was true. They are now in full bloom and they seem to be in even greater numbers than usual.

Mountain LadyslipperMountain Ladyslipper, Cypripedium montanum, Orchid family

Mountain Ladyslipper

Mountain Ladyslipper

Last week I also encountered quite a few plants with blossoms that had not yet opened and I nearly failed to recognize them. That was the first time I have seen them at that stage.

Mountain Ladyslipper

Mountain Ladyslipper

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