When I first saw a field of Camassia Quamash a few years ago, I was awestruck by its striking deep violet-blue flower. In the last two years, it has become one of our top selling products, so I wanted to learn more about this flower. What I found out about Camassia Quamash has made me more interested in this plant and I only wish I had a larger property in which to grow it.
Camassia Quamash is native to North America. Hundreds of years ago, you would have found fields of these flowers in California, Washington, Montana, and Wyoming. This edible flower was planted by Native Americans and was considered a culinary delicacy. They would pit-roast the bulbs with other leaves and also boil them, which yielded a syrup. The plant also was a tremendous food source for the Lewis and Clark expedition and Meriwether Lewis wrote about Camassia Quamash staying that, “at a short distance, the color resembles lakes of bright clear water”.
The plant is also commonly known as Wild Hyacinth, Camas, small Camas, common Camash or Quamash and is a perennial herb. The light blue to deep violet-blue flowers bloom in late spring to early summer (May to June). Each of the flowers is star-shaped with six petals that are symmetrical. When in bloom the flower makes it seem like the entire landscape in a bloom in full color. The cultivation of this plant declined because of modern development and agriculture. Cattle and hogs grazed on the plant which caused tension with Native Americans as it took away their food supply.
Camassia Quamash is resistant to many diseases, pests, and critters. The plant is easy to grow and does well in a variety of soil conditions as long as they have sufficient drainage. They prefer sunny conditions but also require shade for roughly one-quarter of the day. In full bloom, this flower grows 2 to 3 feet with a width of 6 to 9 inches. It has been said that the plant is a tough and long flowering. This flower will look great with Daffodils, Allium and other bulbs and it also makes a great cut flower. While this plant is easy to grow, it is not recommended for containers as it needs to grow undisturbed.
Camassia Quamash bulbs need to be planted in the fall. When planting, dig holes 4” deep and 8-10” apart. The bulbs are round but do have a small pointy end. Plant the point upwards. After planting the bulbs make sure you water them well. If you are interested in the plants naturalizing, leave them undisturbed. They will be good for many years. After blooming, do not cut off the foliage, photosynthesis will continue and produce food through the leaves, which will strengthen the bulbs for the future. The plant will go into dormancy when the leaves turn yellow and die back. This is the time you can remove the foliage. In dormancy, the plant rests for a few months before it begins its next growing cycle.
If you grow this flower please share your photos and experience. If you decide to grow it, please let us know how you make out.
know how you make out.