About Blue Camass: According to botanist Leslie Haskin, “There is more romance and adventure clustered about the camas root and flower than about almost any other American plant.” Because of its edible bulbs, this plant was a culinary delicacy for Native Americans and early settlers. Traditionally, the bulbs were cooked slowly for several days to achieve a sweet, nutty flavor. They could also be dried and ground for flour or boiled down to a sweet syrup. Meriwether Lewis discovered this plant growing in the Quamash flats near the foot of the Rocky Mountains, and documented his find on June 23, 1806 of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In his diary, he records that Blue Camass in bloom "resembles lakes of fine clear water, so complete in the deception that on first sight I could have sworn it was water."
Blue Camass Germination: For best results, direct sow outdoors in the fall; plant just below the surface of the soil. This seed may be slow to germinate, taking anywhere from 1-6 months. For spring planting, mix the seed with moist sand and store it in the refrigerator for 60 days before planting. Though it adapts to many soils including sand, this plant prefers moist, fairly heavy soil such as clay.
Growing Blue Camass Seeds: This plant develops rather slowly, and may not bloom until several years after sprouting. Seedlings need regular watering as they become established, and mature plants may also need occasional watering in blooming season. High heat or excess moisture may cause Blue Camass to stop blooming or go dormant. After blooming the plant will wither and go dormant until next year; the stem can be cut down after blooming has finished, though this will prevent the development of seed. If left to self-seed, this plant will produce volunteer seedlings. Camass attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees.
Harvesting Blue Camass: Blue Camass makes an excellent cut flower; cut the stems long and place them in water immediately. The edible bulbs can be harvested from mature plants at any time in the fall. When harvesting bulbs, keep in mind that the poisonous Death Camas often grows near this plant.
Saving Blue Camass Seeds: When the seed heads begin to dry and contain mature black seed, remove them and spread them out to dry. Thresh to remove the seed. Store the seed in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Blue Camass Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Small Camas, Common Camass, Camas Lily, Swamp Sego, Indian Hyacinth, Quamash Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Early Summer Height: 18-24 inches Spacing: 8-10 inches Light: Full Sun Soil Moisture: Medium USDA Zone: 4a-8b Seeds Per Oz: 8,125 Produces blade-like leaves at the base, and a large cluster of starry blue flowers at the top of the stem.