Camas: culturally signficant and beautiful

Great Camas

Great Camas is, unarguably, one of the most beautiful and historically significant plants offered through the Native Plant Sale.

Elegant pinnacles of blue flowers with contrasting yellow anthers reach skyward as if to welcome adoration.

Bee pollinating a camas flower near the Willamette River. © M. Evelyn
Bee pollinating a camas flower near the Willamette River. © M. Evelyn

Camas attracts a wide variety of pollinators including bumble bees, mason bees, beetles and ladybugs.

Camas prefers full sun, but also grows in partial shade and will spread readily even in grassy areas. This plant tolerates a wide range of soil conditions. These drought tolerant bulbs are deer and rodent resistant, making them even more appealing.

This easy-to-grow plant produces an edible bulb. Camas was one of the most important food staples of indigenous western North Americans, and is still used by many cultures. With the exception of dried salmon, camas was the most widely traded commodity in the western U.S.

Meriwether Lewis said of camas, “at a short distance it resembles lakes of fine clear water, so complete is the deception that on first site I could have sworn it was water.”

No garden is complete without this native addition. Click here to purchase camas by January 31.