A dazzling, tall, and brilliant blue spring wildflower!
Taller in stature than its close relative the common camas, great camas rises to heights of more than two-feet in optimal locations, making it visible even among expansive grassy habitats. These larger proportions also include slightly larger flowerheads and edible bulbs that can grow to the size of small potatoes.
Great camas thrives in rich organic soils that are boggy and wet during the winter but dry out fully in the summer. It has a bit of tolerance for partial shade allowing it to grow in both open meadows and sun-dappled savanna conditions beneath oaks or fruit trees. The beauty of this plant has made it a favorite imported specimen in European gardens, including in naturalized English meadow gardens. How lucky we are to have it as a relatively carefree and easy to grow indigenous plant!
A few additional things to know about camas in general (all species):
1) Deer enjoy a nighttime snack of camas blossoms, so they do best behind a fence or where deer pressure is low.
2) Germination rates for camas tend to be very high but the plants are very slow growing, sometimes taking several years before they begin to flower. With grass-like foliage it can be hard to assess its abundance when not in flowering.
3) Camas tend to have a natural range of color variations from pale blue to light lavender, to dark purple, and even white. It's fascinating to see this variation, even sometimes among a single, long-established local population of plants.
4) Go ahead and eat some! In mature stands, camas harvesting tends to spread bits of broken bulbs which re-grow into new plants and the digging increases seed germination by opening up soil. Someone once said of camas, “the more you dig it up, the better it does.” We think this is true!
Approximately 200 seeds (1.1 gram).