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Useful Temperate Plants

Camassia leichtlinii

(Baker) S.Watson

Asparagaceae

+ Synonyms

Camassia esculenta leichtlinii Baker

Camassia leichtlinii suksdorfii (Greenm.) C.L.Hitchc.

Camassia suksdorfii Greenm.

Quamasia leichtlinii (Baker) Coville

Quamasia suksdorfii (Greenm.) Piper

Common Name: Wild Hyacinth

Camassia leichtlinii
Close-up of the inflorescence
Photograph by: Epibase
Creative Commons License
Camassia leichtlinii Camassia leichtlinii

General Information

Camassia leichtlinii is a herbaceous perennial plant growing from a solitary bulb 15 - 30mm in diameter; it produces a cluster of 3 - 9 grass-like leaves 20 - 60cm long and flowering stems 20 - 130cm tall[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
].
The bulb was a staple food of the native N. Americans who would harvest it in quantity, trade it and also dry it for later use. The plant is often grown as an ornamental in the garden.

Known Hazards

Camassia bulbs have long been an important food staple for native North Americans, especially in the Pacific Northwest of N. America, where the bulbs were dug and traded on large encampment meadows. However, the plants are superficially similar to the poisonous species of Zigadenus (known as ‘death camas’) and so great care should be taken in making a positive identification[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
,
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Botanical References

60
Title
Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest.
Publication
 
Author
Hitchcock. C. L.
Publisher
University of Washington Press
Year
1955
ISBN
-
Description
A standard flora for Western N. America with lots of information on habitat etc. Five large volumes, it is not for the casual reader.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.

Range

Western N. America - southern British Columbia, Washington, Oregon to central California.

Habitat

Wet meadows; at elevations from 100 - 2,400 metres[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
]. Meadows, prairies and hillsides that are moist, at least in early spring.

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *  *
HabitBulb
Height1.00 m
PollinatorsBees
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Wild

Cultivation Details


A very easily grown plant, it succeeds in almost any soil[
42
Title
Hardy Bulbs.
Publication
 
Author
Grey. C. H.
Publisher
Williams & Norgate.
Year
1938
ISBN
-
Description
Rather dated now, but an immense work on bulbs for temperate zones and how to grow them. Three large volumes.
] and is tolerant of considerable neglect once it is established[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. Prefers a moist, fertile, acidic, humus-rich soil in full sun, tolerating part shade[
138
Title
Growing from Seed. Volume 3.
Publication
 
Author
Bird. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Thompson and Morgan.
Year
1989
ISBN
-
Description
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
352
Title
KemperCentreForHomeGardeningPlantFinder
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic cultivation details, plant uses, habitat etc for several thousand species of plants, mainly from the temperate zone.
]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a rather heavy loam[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
] that has plenty of moisture in spring but does not remain wet over the winter[
138
Title
Growing from Seed. Volume 3.
Publication
 
Author
Bird. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Thompson and Morgan.
Year
1989
ISBN
-
Description
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Dislikes dry soils[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
A very ornamental plant[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
], there are many named varieties[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Plants often self-sow in the garden[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].
Plants take 3 - 4 years to commence flowering from seed[
352
Title
KemperCentreForHomeGardeningPlantFinder
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic cultivation details, plant uses, habitat etc for several thousand species of plants, mainly from the temperate zone.
].
A good bee plant[
108
Title
Garden Plants Valuable to Bees.
Publication
 
Author
International Bee Research Association.
Publisher
International Bee Research Association.
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
The title says it all.
].
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[
134
Title
Growing from Seed. Volume 2.
Publication
 
Author
Rice. G. (Editor)
Publisher
Thompson and Morgan.
Year
1988
ISBN
-
Description
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation. An interesting article on Ensete ventricosum.
]..
Plant the bulbs 7 - 10cm deep in early autumn and then leave undisturbed[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
]. The bulbs should be planted about 10 - 20cm deep[
233
Title
Perennial Garden Plants
Publication
 
Author
Thomas. G. S.
Publisher
J. M. Dent & Sons, London.
Year
1990
ISBN
0 460 86048 8
Description
A concise guide to a wide range of perennials. Lots of cultivation guides, very little on plant uses.
,
352
Title
KemperCentreForHomeGardeningPlantFinder
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic cultivation details, plant uses, habitat etc for several thousand species of plants, mainly from the temperate zone.
].

Edible Uses

Bulb - raw or cooked[
94
Title
Common Edible and Useful Plants of the West.
Publication
 
Author
Sweet. M.
Publisher
Naturegraph Co.
Year
1962
ISBN
0-911010-54-8
Description
Useful wild plants in Western N. America. A pocket guide.
,
105
Title
Tanaka's Cyclopedia of Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Tanaka. T. & Nakao S.
Publisher
Keigaku Publishing; Tokyo
Year
1976
ISBN
-
Description
The most comprehensive list of edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
,
177
Title
Plants for Human Consumption.
Publication
 
Author
Kunkel. G.
Publisher
Koeltz Scientific Books
Year
1984
ISBN
3874292169
Description
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of Latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
]. The bulb is about 3cm in diameter[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
], eaten raw it has a mild, starchy flavour, but a gummy texture that reduces the enjoyment of it somewhat[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. It is excellent when slow baked, however, developing a sweet flavour and making a very good potato substitute[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
,
256
Title
Food Plants of Coastal First Peoples
Publication
 
Author
Turner. N. J.
Publisher
UBC Press. Vancouver.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7748-0533-1
Description
Excellent little handbook about the native food plants of Western Canada. Good descriptions of the plants and their uses with colour photos of most plants.
,
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. The cooked bulb can also be dried for later use[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
] or ground into a powder and used as a thickener in soups or as an additive to cereal flours when making bread, cakes etc[
161
Title
Food Plants of the N. American Indians. Publication no. 237.
Publication
 
Author
Yanovsky. E.
Publisher
U.S. Depf of Agriculture.
Year
 
ISBN
-
Description
A comprehensive but very terse guide. Not for the casual reader.
]. The bulbs can be boiled down to make a molasses, this was used on festival occasions by various Indian tribes[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. 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[
256
Title
Food Plants of Coastal First Peoples
Publication
 
Author
Turner. N. J.
Publisher
UBC Press. Vancouver.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7748-0533-1
Description
Excellent little handbook about the native food plants of Western Canada. Good descriptions of the plants and their uses with colour photos of most plants.
].

Medicinal

None known

Other Uses

None known

Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[
134
Title
Growing from Seed. Volume 2.
Publication
 
Author
Rice. G. (Editor)
Publisher
Thompson and Morgan.
Year
1988
ISBN
-
Description
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation. An interesting article on Ensete ventricosum.
]. The seed can also be sown in a cold frame in spring[
134
Title
Growing from Seed. Volume 2.
Publication
 
Author
Rice. G. (Editor)
Publisher
Thompson and Morgan.
Year
1988
ISBN
-
Description
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation. An interesting article on Ensete ventricosum.
]. It usually germinates in 1 - 6 months at 15°c, but it can be erratic[
138
Title
Growing from Seed. Volume 3.
Publication
 
Author
Bird. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Thompson and Morgan.
Year
1989
ISBN
-
Description
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation.
]. 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.

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