Common Camas is in the Liliaceae (lily Family), which contains 478 species in North America and approximately 4200 species worldwide. Liliaceae is a diverse plant family that has been divided into as many as 30 separate families, includes numerous important ornamentals, a number of important agricultural crops, and has been the source of valuable pharmacopoeia.
The range of common camas extends from British Columbia south to California and east to western Montana and Wyoming. Habitat is typically seasonally moist meadows that dry out by late spring.
Common camas bulbs were considered a delicacy by the Native American tribes within the range of the species including the Blackfoot, Cree, and Nez Perce. Bulbs would be steamed or pit cooked for one to three days breaking down complex carbohydrates into ample amounts of the sugar fructose. A full one third of a bulbs cooked weight becomes fructose when prepared in this fashion. Native Americans would dry out the cooked bulbs and grind them into a meal. The meal was used in variety of ways. At times it would be mixed with water to form a batter and then cooked like a pancake. Often the meal would be mixed with water and formed into large bricks and then cooked and stored for future use.
Info Source: U.S. Forest Service
|Habitats||Mixed Hardwood-Conifer Forest or Woodland, Shrub Swamp, Shallow Marsh|
|Habitat notes||Marshy meadows in coniferous forest|
|Shade preference||sun, part shade|
|Soil tolerance||Moist; light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils.|