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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Death Camas (Toxicoscordion venenosum)

This plant is called Death Camas (Toxicoscordion venenosum), not because it is a related to the Camas Lilies posted yesterday but because its bulbs are very similar to Camas bulbs, with one important difference - the bulbs of Death Camas are very poisonous. While the flowers of this plant and Camas Lilies are quite different, traditionally the bulbs were not harvested until long after the flowering season when even the leaves had withered. Death Camas often grow in close proximity to Camas Lilies and the bulbs of both could be harvested together, with dire consequences. During the flowering season, when the two plants could be easily distinguished, First Nations people would industriously uproot the Death Camas from their favored Camas Lily meadows. However, without that kind of care, harvesting Camas Bulbs in late summer is probably a foolish activity. Better nowadays simply to enjoy the splendid flowers. The Death Camas pictured above was photographed in Bear Hill Park on the Saanich Peninsula.


JoJo said...

I bet it was a lot of tragic hit or miss when early man was eating wild plants.

William Kendall said...

Poisonous as it may be, it's quite a striking flower.

Stephanie said...

Nice looking flower, though.