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Uses

Edible uses

Notes

Bulb - raw or cooked[1][2]. The raw bulb has a mild, starchy flavour, but a gummy texture that reduces the enjoyment of it somewhat[K]. When cooked, however, it develops a delicious sweet flavour somewhat like sweet chestnuts[3], and is a highly nutritious food[4]. Excellent when slow baked, it can also be dried and made into a powder which can be used as a thickener in stews or mixed with cereal flours when making bread, cakes etc[K]. The bulbs can be boiled down to make a molasses, this was used on festival occasions by various Indian tribes[4][5]. The bulbs can be harvested at any time of the year[6], but are probably best in early summer when the seeds are ripe[7]. 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[8]. Quamash bulbs were a staple food of the N. American Indians[9][3]. The tribes would move to the Quamash fields in the early autumn and, whilst some people harvested the bulbs, others would dig a pit, line it with boulders then fill it with wood and set fire to it. The fire would heat the boulders and the harvested bulbs would then be placed in the pit and the whole thing covered with earth and the bulbs left to cook slowly for 2 days. The pit would then be opened and the Indians would feast on the bulbs until they could no longer fit any more in their stomachs. Whatever was left would be dried and stored for winter use.

Material uses

There are no material uses listed for Camassia quamash.

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

A decoction of the roots has been used to induce labour[10]. An infusion of the leaves has been used to treat vaginal bleeding after birth and to help expel the placenta[10].

Unknown part

Ecology

Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.

Forage

Nothing listed.

Shelter

Nothing listed.

Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[11]. The seed can also be sown in a cold frame in spring[11]. It usually germinates in 1 - 6 months at 15°c, but it can be erratic[12]. 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. When 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.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Camassia quamash. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.



Cultivation

Succeeds in almost any soil[9]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a rather heavy loam[13] that has plenty of moisture in spring but does not remain wet over the winter[12][14]. Dislikes dry soils[14]. Prefers full sun but tolerates partial shade[12][14].

The dormant bulbs are very hardy and will withstand soil temperatures down to at least -10°c[15]. Quamash is a very pretty flowering bulb that has quite a large potential as an edible ornamental plant[K]. It grows very well in the flower border but can also be naturalised in damp grass[11]. We are intending to grow it in a grassed-down orchard in our Cornish trial ground. The bulbs flower in late spring and early summer and have completely died down by early July so they do not interfere with harvesting the apple crop. The grass in the orchard will be cut in early spring before the quamash comes into growth, but will not be cut again until July. The bulbs will be harvested at any time from July to December and, since it is impossible to find all the bulbs, it is hoped that those remaining will be able to increase and supply bulbs for future years[K]. A polymorphic and very ornamental plant[13], there are some named varieties[14]. A good bee plant[16]. This species can be confused with certain poisonous bulbs in the genus Zigadenus[6].

Plant the bulbs 7 - 10cm deep in early autumn and then leave undisturbed[13].

Crops

Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Camassia quamash. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Camassia quamash.

Descendants

Cultivars

Varieties

None listed.

Subspecies

None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Taxonomy
Binomial name
Camassia quamash
Genus
Camassia
Family
Hyacinthaceae
Imported References
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Botanic
Propagation
Cultivation
Environment
Cultivation
Uses
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Functions
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Environment
Hardiness Zone
3
Heat Zone
?
Water
moderate
Sun
full sun
Shade
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Ecosystems
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Life
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    ?
    Herbaceous or Woody
    ?
    Life Cycle
    ?
    Growth Rate
    ?
    Mature Size
    Fertility
    ?
    Pollinators
    Flower Colour
    ?
    Flower Type











    References

    1. ? 1.01.1 Elias. T. and Dykeman. P. A Field Guide to N. American Edible Wild Plants. Van Nostrand Reinhold ISBN 0442222009 (1982-00-00)
    2. ? 2.02.1 Saunders. C. F. Edible and Useful Wild Plants of the United States and Canada. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-23310-3 (1976-00-00)
    3. ? 3.03.13.2 Balls. E. K. Early Uses of Californian Plants. University of California Press ISBN 0-520-00072-2 (1975-00-00)
    4. ? 4.04.14.2 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
    5. ? 5.05.1 Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    6. ? 6.06.16.2 Harrington. H. D. Edible Native Plants of the Rocky Mountains. University of New Mexico Press ISBN 0-8623-0343-9 (1967-00-00)
    7. ? 7.07.1 Sweet. M. Common Edible and Useful Plants of the West. Naturegraph Co. ISBN 0-911010-54-8 (1962-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.1 Turner. N. J. Food Plants of Coastal First Peoples UBC Press. Vancouver. ISBN 0-7748-0533-1 (1995-00-00)
    9. ? 9.09.19.2 Grey. C. H. Hardy Bulbs. Williams & Norgate. (1938-00-00)
    10. ? 10.010.110.2 Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
    11. ? 11.011.111.2 Rice. G. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 2. Thompson and Morgan. (1988-00-00)
    12. ? 12.012.112.2 Bird. R. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 3. Thompson and Morgan. (1989-00-00)
    13. ? 13.013.113.2 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.114.214.314.4 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    15. ? Matthews. V. The New Plantsman. Volume 1, 1994. Royal Horticultural Society ISBN 1352-4186 (1994-00-00)
    16. ? International Bee Research Association. Garden Plants Valuable to Bees. International Bee Research Association. (1981-00-00)
    17. ? Hitchcock. C. L. Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press (1955-00-00)

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