Difference between revisions of "Camassia leichtlinii"

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Successional Status-Early
Successional Status-Early
West of the Cascades, British Columbia to California.
West of the Cascades, British Columbia to California.

Revision as of 10:58, 23 January 2021

  • Latin Name: Camassia leichtlinii
  • Family:  Asparagaceae
  • Common Names: great camas
  • Codon: CAMLEI
Camassia leichtlinii
Camassia leichtlinii
Photo by Rod Gilbert, 2005. Also featured on Main Page
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta
Phylum: Spermatophyta
Subphylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Asparagaceae
Genus: Camassia
Species: C. leichtlinii


General: Scapose perennial from a deep-seated bulb, the scape 3-5 dm. tall. Leaves: Leaves several, all basal, up to 6 dm. long and mostly 7-20 mm. broad. Flowers: Inflorescence a raceme, 1-2 dm. long at flowering, longer in fruit; pedicels 10-40 mm. long, ascending in fruit; flowers light to deep blue-violet; tepals 6, distinct, alike, 2.5-3.5 cm. long and 5-10 mm. broad, twisting above the ovary and covering it; stamens 6, style slender, stigmas 3. Fruit: Capsule 3-celled, 15-25 mm. long

Bloom Period

April - May


Ecological Setting-Meadows, prairies and hillsides where moist, at least in early spring. Vernally moist meadows in the lowland zone [1] Grassy slopes and meadows[2] Soil Texture-Enjoys heavy loam mixes, but tolerant of other soil types. Needs moisture during growing season. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a rather heavy loam that has plenty of moisture in spring but does not remain wet over the winter. Nutrients-Nitrogen-rich soils [3] Moisture Regime Moist soil – dislikes dry soils Shade Tolerance Prefers full sun but tolerates partial shade Successional Status-Early


West of the Cascades, British Columbia to California.


Wildlife-Bees use this plant Landscaping-A very ornamental plant[4], there are many named varieties. Use in meadows, grassy slopes and banks. Showy bloom with attractive seed heads. Very tough plant for exposed, hot dry sites once established (S. Bastin, personal communication). Use in containers or along pond edges (B. Costanzo, personal communication). First Nation-the bulb is about 3cm in diameter and can be eaten raw or cooked. It is a good substitute for a potatoe. The cooked bulb can also be dried for later use or ground into a powder and used as a thickener in soups or as an additive to cereal flours when making bread, cakes etc. The bulbs can be boiled down to make a molasses, this was used on festival occasions by various Indian tribes. One report says that the bulbs contain inulin (a starch that cannot be digested by humans) but that this breaks down when the bulb is cooked slowly to form the sugar fructose which is sweet and easily digested. Other-This species can be confused with certain poisonous bulbs in the genus Zigadenus


A very easily grown plant, it succeeds in almost any soil and is tolerant of considerable neglect once it is established. Plants often self-sow. Plants can be naturalized in damp grass, this should not be trimmed until mid to late summer when the bulbs have flowered and the leaves have died down. Plant the bulbs 7 - 10cm deep in early autumn and then leave undisturbed. The bulbs should be planted about 20cm deep.

Seeds are best sown as soon as they are ripe in a cold frame and can also be sown in a cold frame in spring. It usually germinates in 1 - 6 months at 15°c, but it can be erratic. Sow the seed thinly so that it does not need to be thinned and allow the seedlings to grow on undisturbed for their first year. Give an occasional liquid feed to ensure that the plants do not become nutrient deficient.

Seed Storage-Store in a cool, dry place.

Fruit/Seed Dormancy and Treatment-then the plants are dormant in late summer, pot up the small bulbs putting 2 - 3 bulbs in each pot. Grow them on for another one or two years in a cold frame before planting them out when dormant in late summer. Offsets in late summer. The bulb has to be scored in order to produce offsets.


Seed sample from: 2011

Average Measurement: 3.3 x 2.2 x 2.1

Measurement Range: L: 3 - 3.75, W: 2 - 2.5, D: 1.75 - 2.25


Shape: Seed are narrower at hilum end, rounding off at opposite side. Hilum end ranges from tapered to pointy in shape.

Color: Seeds black, with conspicuous white hilum.

Surface: A wrinkled seam runs from hilum down the length of the seed in most. Seed is glossy, and wrinkled or bumpy.

Latitudinal Cross Section: elliptical Calei-ell.png

Longitudinal Cross Section: obovate Calei-obovate.png

Camassia leichtlinii, photo Lisa Hintz
Camassia leichtlinii, photo Lisa Hintz

Basic Explanations and Assumptions:

The dimensions for the seeds are length x width x depth. The location of the hilum is used as the base of the seed, and the length is measured from hilum to the opposite apex. Where a style is present, the length is measured from the hilum to the bottom of the style. Width is measured at a right angle to the length at the widest part. Depth is measured at a right angle to the intersection of height and width lines.

Measurements included are the mean average for each measurement of ten separate seeds.

All measurements in millimeters unless otherwise noted.

Photo Gallery


  1. (Douglas et al., 2001).
  2. (Pojar and Mackinnon, 1994).
  3. (Klinka et al., 1989).
  4. USDA.gov