Camassiaor camas lilies are western North American native bulbs that occur from southern British Columbia to California and inland into the western mountains. They form spikes typically one to three feet tall of starry, lily-like flowers in white and various shades of blue including sky blues, lavender blues and dark blues. They have long, strap-like leaves and bulbs can bulk up over time forming attractive clumps.
There are three species that are most commonly available in cultivation. C. quamashis the common camas usually with mid blue flowers and a daintier habit than the other species. It is quite widespread in distribution from BC to California and inland to Alberta, Montana, and Wyoming. The bulbs were used as a food source by various native peoples.
- cusickiior Cusick’s is native to Oregon and Idaho and is typically icy blue in the wild though other shades can be found and are cultivated.
- leichtliniior great camas is the other species that occurs naturally in BC though it is less common and only known from the southern end of Vancouver Island. It can reach up to four feet tall.
Camas are native to seasonally moist meadows and open areas that often dry out in the summer. Camas lilies are easy to grow in average garden conditions but especially where soils are moist in winter and spring and dry in summer which mimics their native habitats.
At Phoenix Perennials, we offer a variety of camas lilies each year for pre-ordering through the summer and fall for pick-up or shipping in late September and early October. Should supplies last, we may also have them available potted up in early spring.