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Herb Library

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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.




CAMAS, COMMON
LILIACEAE
(Camassia esculenta syn Quamasia quamash)
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Perennial to 2½ feet. Leaves grow to 20" long, being glaucous above. Flowers are irregular in color appearing from white, to shades of pale blue to blue violet and being 1¼ inches long with perianth segments that do not twist together after pollination. The fruit is an ovate to oblong capsule.

In Utah, Idaho, Montana, California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and British Columbia, Native Americans used the roots, fresh or cooked, for food. The bulbs were cooked in stone-lined pits in the ground until they formed a sweet molasses-like liquid; also dried and ground into flour then made into bread.

RELATED SPECIES & VARIETIES:
Quamasia azurea: Found in the alluvial plains of western Washington state, growing to 2 feet; leaves to 16" long; flowers more regular in color than Quamasia quamash, being a light blue-violet.
LEICHTLIN CAMAS (Camassia leichtlinii syn Quamasia leichtlinii): Perennial of the Umpqua River Valley of Oregon to 4 feet; leaves to 2 feet, being 1 inch wide; flowers a creamy-white and 1 inch to a bit more in length with only 1 or 2 open at a time; perianth segments twist together after pollination; fruit is an ovate capsule to 1 inch. The subspecies C. l. Saksdorfii has blue flowers with a cultivated variety 'Atrocaerulea' being deep violet-blue and the c.v. 'Alba' (British Columbia to northern California) being white.





©2005 by Ernestina Parziale, CH

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