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Camas Culture

A Walk in the Woods


Randi de Santa Anna

Camas Flower (Camassia quamash)

As you drive along Highway 200 through Potomac you can see several purple-tinged fields off to the north. The purple color is camas flowers.

Camas, Camassia quamash, is in the Lily Family. The root of purple camas was a main food source for Native people on the western side of the Rockies up into British Columbia. It was a highly prized trading commodity. The bulbs could be eaten raw but were usually roasted in a pit from one to three days, which turned their starches into fructose making the bulbs sweet.

A word of caution: There are two kinds of camas – purple and death camas – and th...

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