E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Camassia quamash subsp. maxima (Pursh) Greene Gould
common camas (small camas)
(Previously in Liliaceae)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Hans Roemer  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #10223)

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Distribution of Camassia quamash subsp. maxima
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Species Information

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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

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Mesic to vernally moist meadows and grasslands in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; locally frequent on SE Vancouver Island (ssp. azurea rare in peatlands on W Vancouver Island), the Gulf Islands and SE BC; E to AB and S to MT, ID and WA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Camassia quamash var. maxima (Gould) B. Boivin

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References