This spring the camas meadows are a delight. Uplands Park is especially 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
- 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.
- 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)
- 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 open.
- 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 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 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 kind sounds like the setting for a murder mystery. What do you think? Would you read that book?