The Camas Lily - Camas, WA Namesake now in Full Bloom

Real Estate Broker/Owner with ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors

The Camas Lily - Camas, WA Namesake now in Full Bloom

Camas Lily Meadow

Camas is named after the Camas Lily.  It creates spectacular displays of color this time of year in moist meadows in the Pacific Northwest. Lewis and Clark made note of it on their return journey home, writing about it in a journal - (note spelling errors are authentic) "...the quamash is now in blume at a Short distance and resembles a lake of fine clear water, So complete is this deseption that on first Sight I could have sworn it was water."

The Camas lily is also called quamash, Indian hyacinth, and wild hyacinth. The blooms vary in color from a pale lilac or white to deep purple or blue violet. Currently, many meadows around Camas are awash in blue violet color. I have to agree with the Lewis and Clark description, it does often resemble a body of clear blue water shimmering in the distance.

Useful, and pretty flowers
Bulbs for foodCamas bulbs were an important food source to the Pacific Northwest American Native populations. And it was often a central element of feasts and celebrations. The bulbs were layered with grasses and cooked in fire pits for several days. Apparently, the cooked or dried bulbs were almost as valuable as smoked salmon for trading purposes.

The Camas root looks similar to an onion, but is said to taste like pumpkin. It was also used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes and in bread-making. The plants were usually dug in the summer, after flowering, although some people dug them in the spring.  Harvesting the bulbs traditionally took weeks or months among the Nez Perce.

TrailFew people today gather the blue camas root for food. And should you feel tempted to harvest a few, keep in mind that its distant cousin looks similar. Known as Death Camas, it can grow right next to fields of Camas lilies. Death Camas can also be mistaken for a Wild Onion - but as it's name suggests, it can be fatally poisonous if ingested.

If you want to see these beautiful meadows in bloom head to the Lacamas Park Lily Field. It's about a 2 and half mile hike, moderate in difficultly, but well worth the effort. Here's a link to a more detailed description of the location for the trailhead. The lovely annual Camas Lily show is in it's prime - you'll have to hurry though, as it won't last for long.

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Tom White
Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or - Franklin, TN
Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN

Debb, really beautiful field of flowers and thank you so much for the historical context. I was a history major back in college and was particularly intrigued by the Lewis and Clark Expedition. This was really interesting!! I love it! Ok, I'll curb my enthusiasm..

Apr 30, 2014 01:40 AM #4
Suzanne De Vita
Online Associate Editor

We've had a rough winter here in CT, so it always makes me happy to see a sign of spring! Cracked up when I read the spelling errors. Thanks for educating us!

Apr 30, 2014 02:52 AM #5
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Thanks much Tim.

Hi there Dick, they really like moist meadows and wetlands that dry out in spring - doubt if you've got the water table there to pull it off. ;) 

Apr 30, 2014 02:57 AM #6
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

It is gorgeous around here right now, Noah. One of my favorite times of the year to soak up the color and lush beauty.

Apr 30, 2014 02:57 AM #7
Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

I had no idea that Camas was named after a flower Debb; they are beautiful!

Apr 30, 2014 03:26 AM #8
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


What a magnificent site of Camas lillies!  I would love to just sit there among all that and meditate...A

Apr 30, 2014 03:28 AM #9
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Haha. I like your enthusiasm, Tom. No need to curb it - and they are beautiful. :)

Suzanne, hoping you see the strong signs of spring soon. Good to see you.

Tom, I appreciate your floral post today. Thanks for the visit.

Hi Alexandra - me too. It does look like a great spot for meditation - appreciated your Italian heather photo today.

Apr 30, 2014 03:36 AM #10
Erin Bates
CMG Financial and Expansion Marketing Services - Aurora, CO

Wow. How pretty! I must admit that I have never seen a lilly that looks quite like that before. These almost remind me of Texas blue bonnets. When I was little I would go visit my Grandmother in Texas ... I would always beg her to pick some blue bonnets for me! Now, of course it was illegal since they were the state flower, but, my Grandmother did not like to play by the rules of "the man", so, she would hop out of the car and get to pickin! Hope you have a wonderful day.  

Apr 30, 2014 05:15 AM #12
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Debb, how beautiful that would be to run across this field of lilies!   All your rain sure makes for beautiful landscaping!

Apr 30, 2014 05:28 AM #13
Anita Clark
ColdwellBanker SSK Realtors ~ 478.960.8055 - Warner Robins, GA
Realtor - Homes for Sale in Warner Robins GA

Debb: I bet viewing a sea of Camas Lillies is a breathtaking site to behold. I always learn so much about your area from your very informative blogs.

Apr 30, 2014 06:05 AM #14
Belinda Spillman
Aspen Lane Real Estate Colorful Colorado - Aurora, CO
Colorado Living!

Very beautiful.  Looks like Spring Has Sprung in your area.

Apr 30, 2014 06:24 AM #15
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
RE/MAX Northwest. - Tacoma, WA
Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority!

What I beautiful contrast that color has with the green trees in the background..

Apr 30, 2014 07:27 AM #16
Tony & Darcy Cannon
Aubrey and Associates Realty - Layton, UT
The C Team

Debb, They are very beautiful!  It looks to be well worth the hike!  Have a great night!

Apr 30, 2014 08:37 AM #17
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Erin, thanks for the sweet story. Doesn't surprise me that grandma bent the rules a bit. ;) I think, it's in order now and again.

Joan, it does and now we'll get to enjoy our drier months - and with great beauty around us. Yeah!

Apr 30, 2014 08:51 AM #18
Joanna Cohlan
Fresh Eyes For Your Home - Chappaqua, NY
Designing, Decorating & Staging Westchester Homes

This field of lilies with the color of iris, is just gorgeous.  Sounds like it has quite a few names, but each is pretty descriptive.  You obviously know a lot about Camas culture and history and of course, wildlife and I feel like I'm getting to know all about Camas and its treasures as well, just from reading what you have to say.  Thanks Debb.

Apr 30, 2014 09:32 AM #19
Joe Jackson
Keller Williams Capital Partners Realty - Columbus, OH
Clintonville and Central Ohio Real Estate Expert

Very, very beautiful....  thanks for  the nice photos

Apr 30, 2014 10:57 AM #20
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

Interesting history on the camas plant. I believe I will leave both of them alone.

Apr 30, 2014 11:51 AM #21
Anna Hatridge
Goodson Realty - Farmington, MO
Missouri Realtor with Goodson Realty

How lovely the camas lill is and how lucky you are to have them. Enjoyed the historical information.

Apr 30, 2014 04:07 PM #22
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Thanks for sharing your photographs. The history of the Camas lilies is very interesting. I wonder if they would grow in Maryland.

Apr 30, 2014 10:55 PM #23
Larry Johnston
Broker, Friends & Neighbors Real Estate and Elkhart County Subdivisions, LLC - Elkhart, IN
Broker,Friends & Neighbors Real Estate, Elkhart,IN

Good morning Debb,  As you mentioned, it does look like water from a distance in your photo, although I am not familiar with the Camas Lilly. Very interesting story.  Thanks for sharing.

Apr 30, 2014 11:57 PM #24
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Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD

REALTORS® in Clark County, WA
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