Camas Identification


Uplands Park Camas meadow, garden Victoria BC, Pacific North West
photo by SVSeekins

This spring, the camas meadows are a delight.  Uplands Park is exceptionally beautiful.
(Who knew the park is more than Willows Beach & a boat launch?!?
It’s so much larger than that.)

An evening walk with the native plant enthusiasts of Friends of Uplands Park was fun AND educational.

Common Camas vs Great Camas

another camas meadow in Uplands Park, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  •  Common Camas flowers first, sometimes starting as early as March in the Pacific Northwest.
    Great  Camas follows a few weeks later, peaking in May.  The whole show is usually over by June.

    Great Camas along Uplands Park path, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins
  • Common Camas is shorter & sticks to meadows in full sun.
    Great  Camas is taller & likes the meadows too, but also tolerates the partial shade along woodland paths. (see photo right)
    (Ergo the only camas to survive in our day-lily beds are the Great Camas)  

    common camas after bloom, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
    Common Camas
    photo by SVSeekins
  •  The Common Camas bloom opens quickly, with most of the spike in full flower all at one time.
    The Great  Camas bloom opens gradually from bottom to top. Sometimes the flowers at the bottom of the spike are finishing while the very top is yet to begin.

    common camas after bloom
    Great Camas photo by SVSeekins
  • A funky way to tell the two apart is with the withering bloom.   The  Common Camas flower petals die back willy-nilly. (see photo above)
    The Great Camas flowers die back gracefully, with the petals wrapping themselves into a hug.  (see photo right)

    a white camas - not a death camas, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins
  • A white camas flower is usually just an albino version of an ordinary camas.  Some say the same bulb will often produce a regular flower, but some years it’ll throw an abnormal one.  Unusual but not dangerous.

    Death Camas in Uplands Park, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins
  • Death Camas is dangerous.  It has a white flower too but looks quite different.  After the blooms are gone, it’s pretty tough to tell the types apart from just the foliage.  Indigenous people used camas as a food source, but they were very wary of the Death Camas.  It makes sense that they harvested while the plants were in bloom.  I’m told it’s toxic to the touch …. so hands off!

That certainly calls a halt to the romantic sunset stroll, doesn’t it?  It’s all pixies & fairy dust until someone is poisoned…
Hmmm, that kinda sounds like the setting for a murder mystery.  What do you think?  Would you read that book?


Other places to see Camas Meadows:

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.