Montana Outdoors

May 17, 2017

There are Camas, and there are Camas…

Filed under: Wildflowers — Tags: , , , , — montucky @ 9:54 am

Camus

Camus

Camus

Camus

Camus

Camus

Common Camas or Blue Camas ~ Cammassia quamash

The bulbs of the Blue Camas, which are starchy, nutritious and have a high sugar content were an important food source for the indigenous tribes in the west and northwest parts of the U.S. and Canada. Many Indian wars were fought for the collecting rights to cherished camas meadows, and as the explorers (including Lewis & Clark and Discovery), trappers and early settlers arrived they also depended on the Camas bulbs for some of their sustenance. “Camas Prairie” is a well known place name in an area close to where I live and also in an area in eastern Idaho as well as other areas across the west.

The other Camas however, is deadly.

Meadow Death Camas

Meadow Death Camas ~ Zigadenus venenosus is, as the name implies, extremely toxic and can cause death in people and cattle or other animals that graze on them and a big problem is that its bulb is nearly identical in looks to the bulb of the Blue Camas. I hate to think about just how it was discovered that they were deadly toxic to humans!

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