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Camassia quamash

camas, common camas, small camas

Cusick camas, Cusick's camas, wild blue hyacinth


seldom clustered, globose, 1–5 cm diam.

clustered, ellipsoid, 2–7 cm diam.


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

rarely fewer than 10, 2.5–5 dm × 2–5 cm.


20–80 cm;

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

50–80 cm;

sterile bracts 0, bracts subtending flowers exceeding 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.

slightly zygomorphic;

tepals withering separately after anthesis, pale blue or bluish violet, each 3(–5)-veined, 25–35 × 3–5 mm;

anthers yellow, 3.5–4(–5) mm; fruiting pedicel incurving-erect or slightly spreading, 15–25 mm.


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

not deciduous, light brown, ovoid or ellipsoid, 15–25 mm.


5–10 per locule.

5–10 per locule.


= 30.

= 30.

Camassia quamash

Camassia cusickii

Phenology Flowering mid–late spring.
Habitat Hillsides
Elevation 1000–2000 m (3300–6600 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.)

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, p. 307.
Parent taxa Liliaceae > Camassia Liliaceae > Camassia
Sibling taxa
C. angusta, C. cusickii, C. howellii, C. leichtlinii, C. scilloides
C. angusta, 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 Quamasia cusickii
Name authority (Pursh) Greene: Man. Bot. San Francisco, 313. (1894) S. Watson: Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts 22: 479. (1887)
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