The following are some facts about the Camas plant:
Camas is a member of the nightshade family (Solanaceae). The leaves and flowers of this plant have been used medicinally for centuries.
They were traditionally chewed or eaten raw or cooked in soups, stews, salads, sauces and other dishes. Some cultures even considered them to be aphrodisiacal!
In the United States it was first cultivated commercially during the late 1700’s. By 1883, there were over 200 varieties of camas grown in California alone.
Today, the species is found throughout much of North America and many parts of South America.
Camas grows best in full sun to partial shade conditions. It prefers moist soil with a pH between 6 and 7.
However, it will grow well in very dry areas too if these conditions are favorable.
Camas plants are drought tolerant, but they do not like frequent watering. Watering should occur only when necessary.
If water is left sitting out for several days, the roots may rot and the plant will die. When growing camas, keep in mind that it requires regular pruning to maintain its shape and beauty.
Camas is a fast-growing annual that reaches heights of 10 feet or more in cultivation. The flowers bloom in the late spring and early summer (May to August) and are up to 3 inches across.
They can be white, purple or yellow and have a pleasant smell.
Some types of camas include:
Lewisia rediviva – Native to western North America (western Canada and the United States).
Lewisia cotteri – Native to western North America (western Canada and the United States).
Sources & references used in this article:
Camas (Camassia spp.) and riceroot (Fritillaria spp.): Two liliaceous “root” foods of the Northwest Coast Indians by NJ Turner, HV Kuhnlein – Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 1983 – Taylor & Francis
Renewing Central Coast Salish Camas (Camassia leichtlinii (Baker) Wats., C. quamash (Pursh) Greene; Liliaceae) Traditions Through Access to Protected … by KY Proctor – 2013 – search.proquest.com
Evaluating the Effects of Traditional Harvest and Climate on Common Camas (Camassia quamash) in Weippe Prairie, Idaho by DS Stucki – 2018 – ir.library.oregonstate.edu