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Camassia quamash

camas, common camas, small camas

prairie camas, prairie hyacinth


seldom clustered, globose, 1–5 cm diam.

sometimes clustered, globose, 1–3 cm diam.


usually fewer than 10, 1–6 dm × 4–20 mm.

3–11, 2–6 dm × 5–20 mm.


20–80 cm;

sterile bracts absent, bracts subtending flowers usually equaling or exceeding pedicel.

27–87 cm;

sterile bracts 3–19(–28), bracts subtending flowers shorter than or equaling pedicel.


usually zygomorphic, sometimes actinomorphic;

tepals withering separately or connivent over capsules after anthesis, long-persistent on fruiting racemes, blue or bluish violet, each 3–9-veined, 12–35 × 1.5–8 mm;

anthers usually yellow, sometimes bluish violet, violet, or brown, 2.5–7 mm; fruiting pedicel mostly incurving-erect, occasionally spreading-erect, 5–70 mm.


tepals withering separately, sometimes connivent over capsules, light blue to lavender, each 3- or 5-veined, 6–10 × 2.2–3.6 mm;

anthers bright yellow, 1.5–2 mm; fruiting pedicel incurving-erect, 6–12 mm.


not deciduous, pale green to pale brown, ovoid, 6–19 mm.

deciduous, pale green to light brown, ovoid-ellipsoid, 6–10 mm.


5–10 per locule.

2–5 per locule.


= 30.

= 30.

Camassia quamash

Camassia angusta

Phenology Flowering mid–late spring.
Habitat Prairies
Elevation 100–500 m (300–1600 ft)
from USDA
w United States and Canada
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]
from FNA
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]

camassia quamash is highly variable morphologically. although there tend to be distinct geographical variants. here recognized as subspecies following f. w. gould (1942), there is much overlap among them. the subspecific status of these taxa is retained to highlight the extreme morphological variability and geographical patterns within the species. a detailed biosystematic study of this complex is needed

Subspecies 8 (8 in the flora).

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Camassia angusta flowers two to three weeks later than sympatric populations of C. scilloides.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

1. Tepals connivent over capsules after anthesis, usually forced apart again by capsule growth.
→ 2
1. Tepals withering separately after anthesis, with no tendency to be connivent over capsules.
→ 4
2. Leaves 6–15 mm wide, not glaucous; tepals 5-, 7-, or 9-veined, or occasionally 3-veined in outer whorls; n California coast ranges.
subsp. linearis
2. Leaves 10–20 mm wide, glaucous adaxially; tepals usually 3-veined, or 5-veined, in inner whorls; w and nw United States.
→ 3
3. Tepals bright blue to deep bluish violet, 15–20 mm; anthers bright yellow; ec California, n to Washington.
subsp. breviflora
3. Tepals pale to deep bluish violet, 16–31 mm; anthers dull yellow to violet; s Idaho, n Utah.
subsp. utahensis
4. Fruiting pedicels with capsules held away from raceme axes.
→ 5
4. Fruiting pedicels with capsules usually closely appressed to raceme axes (except subsp. maxima).
→ 6
5. Tepals light bluish violet; (bulbs 20–35 × 15–25 mm, shallowly buried in) light, well-drained prairie soils; sw Washington.
subsp. azurea
5. Tepals bright to deep bluish violet; (bulbs 15–65 × 14–50 mm, deeply buried in) wet meadows, fields, and rocky coastal bluffs, sw British Columbia to nw Oregon.
subsp. maxima
6. Pedicels usually 5–10 mm; flowers actinomorphic; tepals 12–20 mm; sw Oregon.
subsp. walpolei
6. Pedicels 10–70 mm; flowers slightly zygomorphic or actinomorphic; tepals 15–35 mm; sw Canada, w Oregon and Washington e to Rocky Mountains.
→ 7
7. Leaves not glaucous; anthers bright yellow; Oregon only.
subsp. intermedia
7. Leaves glaucous adaxially; anthers dull yellow, bluish violet, violet, or brown; extreme sw Canada, nw United States.
→ 8
8. Anthers never yellow, bluish violet to brown only.
subsp. quamash
8. Anthers dull yellow, violet, or brown.
subsp. maxima
Source FNA vol. 26, p. 304. FNA vol. 26.
Parent taxa Liliaceae > Camassia Liliaceae > Camassia
Sibling taxa
C. angusta, C. cusickii, C. howellii, C. leichtlinii, C. scilloides
C. cusickii, C. howellii, C. leichtlinii, C. quamash, C. scilloides
Subordinate taxa
C. quamash subsp. azurea, C. quamash subsp. breviflora, C. quamash subsp. intermedia, C. quamash subsp. linearis, C. quamash subsp. maxima, C. quamash subsp. quamash, C. quamash subsp. utahensis, C. quamash subsp. walpolei
Synonyms Phalangium quamash Scilla angusta, C. fraseri var. angusta, Quamasia angusta
Name authority (Pursh) Greene: Man. Bot. San Francisco, 313. (1894) (Engelmann & A. Gray) Blankinship: Rep. (Annual) Missouri Bot. Gard. 18: 195. (1907)
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