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Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

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Camassia quamash (Small camas)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Camassia quamash

Camassia quamash (Pursh) Greene

Small Camas, Common Camass, Swamp Sego

Liliaceae (Lily Family)


USDA Symbol: CAQU2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

A bulbous plant with basal clusters of narrow, grass-like, bright green leaves. The flowering racemes are 1-3 ft. tall with dozens of showy, star-like, sky- to deep-blue flowers. Light to deep blue-violet, star-shaped flowers in a raceme; several narrow, grass-like leaves grow mostly near the base. The three sepals and three petals all share the blue color.

This species is sometimes so frequent as to color entire meadows blue-violet. Indians pit-roasted the bland bulbs with other leaves, and also boiled them, which yielded a good syrup. Another similar species is Leichtlin's Camas (C. leichtlinii), which grows only west of the Cascade Mountains, from southern British Columbia to the southern portion of California's Sierra Nevada, and has radially symmetrical flowers.


From the Image Gallery

21 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 3 feet tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Blue
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun


USA: CA , ID , MT , NV , OR , UT , WA , WY
Canada: BC
Native Distribution: B.C. to CA, e. to s.w. Alt., MT, WY & UT
Native Habitat: Moist areas, often where dry by late spring

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Heavy, winter- & spring-moist soils.
Conditions Comments: Camass eventually goes dormant and should then have less water, but not fully dry soil. Considered among the easiest of and showiest of native bulbs.


Use Wildlife: Elk, deer & moose reportedly graze the plant in early spring.
Use Food: Bulb favored by indigenous peoples for food.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Description: Propagate from offsets or seed. Sow seed in a sealable container and refrigerate for 3 months or until germination starts. Germination is often poor. Seedlings take 3-4 years to flower.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Native, non-invasive plant seeds for each region in U.S.
June 09, 2006
I need to identify a wildflower from each region that we can package in custom packaging to use as giveaways at our member zoos and aquariums. Our project this year is called Conservation Made Simple...
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Camassia quamash in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Camassia quamash in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Camassia quamash


Record Modified: 2023-01-31
Research By: TWC Staff

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