Perennial herb from a deep, egg-shaped bulb 2-4 cm long; flowering stems 20-70 cm tall, smooth.
Basal leaves several to numerous, linear-lanceolate and grass-like, to 50 cm long, 1-3 cm wide, smooth, sheathing at the base, the margins entire; stem leaves lacking.
Inflorescence a terminal raceme of 5 to many, stalked flowers, the stalks 1-2 cm long, spreading in flower, ascending to erect in fruit; flowers pale to deep blue, rarely white, weakly bilaterally symmetric, of 6 similar, distinct tepals, the tepals 15-40 mm long, 2-8 mm wide; stamens 6, anthers yellow to violet; pistil 1, 3-chambered.
Capsules, egg-shaped to oblong, cross-ridged, 1-2.5 cm long; fruiting stalks shorter than the bracts, ascending to erect, curved in towards stem; seeds several to many, shiny black, 2-4 mm long.
Two subspecies are known from BC:
1. Tepals 3- to 5-veined, mostly less than 6 mm wide, usually less than 30 mm long; stalks appressed in fruit; plants from the dry interior........................ ssp. quamash
1. Tepals 5- to 9-veined, mostly more than 6 mm wide, usually more than 30 mm long; stalks ascending to somewhat spreading in fruit; plants from the coast....................... ssp. maxima Gould
If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.
Illustration Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia
Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Camassia quamash var. maxima (Gould) B. Boivin
KEY TO CAMASSIA
1. Tepals (petal-like segments) twisted together around ovaries after flower wither; flowers more or less radially symmetric; fruiting stalks longer than the bracts........................ C. leichtlinii subsp. suksdorfii
1. Tepals spreading apart, not twisted together around ovaries after flowers wither; flowers weakly bilaterally symmetric; with 5 tepals curving upward and 1 pointing downward; fruiting stalks shorter than the bracts.....................C. quamash