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Camassia quamash was an important food source for coastal First Nations, who harvested the bulb. Despite describing it as tasting like “onion” or “baked pear,” many European explorers found it didn’t agree with them.
Camassia requires well-draining, humus-rich soil but can handle moisture if planted in full sun – don’t let the bulbs get waterlogged. A multitude of slender, star-shaped, blue, white or purple flowers bloom on stalks 30 to 90 cm (12 to 36 in.) high in May or June.
These lily relatives are native to North America and often naturalize in meadows – try mass planting with bulbs and tall ornamental grasses. They also make excellent cut flowers. C. cusickii (hardy to zone 3) will tolerate dryer conditions and a wider range of temperatures than blue camas, C. quamash (zone 4).
Bulbs should be planted in August, 12 cm (5 in.) deep and 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 in.) apart.