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Camassia quamash

camas, common camas, small camas

great camas, large camas, Leichtlin camas, Leichtlin's camas


seldom clustered, globose, 1–5 cm diam.

usually solitary, ovoid, 1.5–3 cm diam.


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

3–9, 2–6 dm × 5–25 mm.


20–80 cm;

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

20–130 cm;

sterile bracts 0, bracts subtending flowers usually shorter than 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 strongly connivent over capsules after anthesis, deciduous as capsules develop, bluish violet to bright blue or creamy white, each 5-, 7-, or 9-veined, 20–40 × 4–10 mm;

anthers yellow, 4–7 mm; fruiting pedicel spreading-erect, 15–50 mm.


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

often deciduous from pedicel, dull green, ovoid to ellipsoid, 10–25 × 6–12 mm.


5–10 per locule.

6–12 per locule.


= 30.

= 30.

Camassia quamash

Camassia leichtlinii

from USDA
w United States and Canada
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]
from USDA
w United States and Canada
[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.)

Subspecies 2 (2 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
1. Perianth always creamy white.
subsp. leichtlinii
1. Perianth usually bluish violet to bright blue, occasionally white.
subsp. suksdorfii
Source FNA vol. 26, p. 304. FNA vol. 26, p. 306.
Parent taxa Liliaceae > Camassia Liliaceae > Camassia
Sibling taxa
C. angusta, C. cusickii, C. howellii, C. leichtlinii, C. scilloides
C. angusta, C. cusickii, C. howellii, 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
C. leichtlinii subsp. leichtlinii, C. leichtlinii subsp. suksdorfii
Synonyms Phalangium quamash Chlorogalum leichtlinii, C. esculenta var. leichtlinii, Quamasia leichtlinii
Name authority (Pursh) Greene: Man. Bot. San Francisco, 313. (1894) (Baker) S. Watson: Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts 20: 376. (1885)
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