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!

April 24, 2015

In the last few days…

Many, many years ago, someone driving along Highway 200 tossed out the core of a pear and the seeds took root. The little tree was too close to the highway and the highway crews cut it down year after year. And each year at least a little part remained on the side furthest from the road. This year there is a branch that has formed what may be a new trunk, far enough from the roadway that it might survive. It has grown to about 8 feet high and is just covered with the most beautiful blossoms.

Pear blossoms

Pear blossoms

More species of wildflowers have also begun to bloom, some very early, I think, but surely very welcome!

Meadow death-camas

Meadow death-camas ~ Zigadenus venenosus

Field Chickweed

Field Chickweed ~ Cerastium arvense

Slender Hawksbeard

Slender Hawksbeard ~ Crepis atrabarba

Peak Saxifrage

Peak Saxifrage – Micranthes nidifica

Field Pussytoes

Field Pussytoes ~ Antennaria neglecta

Upland Larkspur

Upland Larkspur ~ Delphinium nuttallianum

May 12, 2013

May wildflowers

After the late arrival of warm weather, the wildflowers in this part of Western Montana have been hurrying to catch up with spring. Here are more that have started blooming in May:

Miner's Lettuce

Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata

Unknown

Unknown

Western Blue Clematis

Western Blue Clematis, Clematis occidentalis

Heart-leaf Arnica

Heart-leaf Arnica , Arnica cordifolia

Fairy Slipper, Calypso Orchid

Fairy Slipper, Calypso Orchid , Calypso bulbosa

Falsebox, Mountain Boxwood, Oregon Boxwood

Falsebox, Mountain Boxwood, Oregon Boxwood, Paxistma myrsinites

Blue-eyed Mary

Blue-eyed Mary, Collinsia parviflora

Yellow Wood Violet

Yellow Wood Violet, Viola glabella

Arrow-leaved Balsamroot

Arrow-leaved Balsamroot, Balsamorhiza sagittata

Arrow-leaved Balsamroot

Arrow-leaved Balsamroot, Balsamorhiza sagittata

Serviceberry, Saskatoon

Serviceberry, Saskatoon, Amelanchier alnifolia

antelope bitterbrush, antelope-brush

Antelope Bitterbrush, Antelope-brush, Purshia tridentata

antelope bitterbrush, antelope-brush

Antelope Bitterbrush, Antelope-brush, Purshia tridentata

sticky purple geranium, sticky geranium

Sticky Purple Geranium, Sticky Geranium, Geranium viscosissimum

woolly groundsel

Woolly Groundsel, Packera cana

ground ivy

Ground Ivy, Glechoma hederacea

largeflower triteleia

Largeflower Triteleia, Triteleia grandiflora

meadow death camas, common death camas

Meadow Death Camas, Common Death Camas, Zigadenus venenosus

small-flowered woodland-star, small-flowered prairie-star

Small-flowered Woodland-star, Small-flowered Prairie-star, Lithophragma parviflorum

holly-leaf Oregon-grape, shining Oregongrape, tall Oregongrape

Holly-leaf Oregon-grape, Shining Oregongrape, Tall Oregongrape, Berberis aquifolium

Unknown shrub

Unknown shrub

woolly groundsel

Common Hawkweed, Hieracium lachenalii

two-lobe larkspur, upland larkspur

Two-lobe Larkspur, Upland Larkspur, Delphinium nuttallianum

May 1, 2012

Three whites and a purple

With the exception of the Larkspur, the last flowers I observed blooming in April were white.

Saskatoon, Serviceberry

Saskatoon, Serviceberry, Amelanchier alnifolia

Saskatoon, Serviceberry

Saskatoon, Serviceberry, Amelanchier alnifolia

Upland Larkspur

Upland Larkspur, Delphinium nuttallianum

Upland Larkspur

Upland Larkspur, Delphinium nuttallianum

Meadow Death-camas

Meadow Death-camas, Zigadenus venenosus

Meadow Death-camas

Meadow Death-camas, Zigadenus venenosus

Wild Strawberry

Wild Strawberry, Fragaria virginiana

Wild Strawberry

Wild Strawberry, Fragaria virginiana

Wild Strawberry

Wild Strawberry, Fragaria virginiana

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

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