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5. Common Camas (Camassia quamash)
Collected: 1806 Jun 23 - Weippe Prairie, Idaho
Common Camas
Common Camas
Margaret H. Fulford Herbarium
University of Cincinnati
 
Common Camas
Common Camas
Photographer: Victor Soukup
Common Camas
Common Camas
Photographer: Victor Soukup
Common Camas
Common Camas
Photographer: Victor Soukup
 
Common Camas
Common Camas
Photographer: Victor Soukup

Description: "We have never met with this plant but in or adjacent to a piny or fir timbered country, and there always in the open grounds and glades…It delights in a black rich moist soil, and even grows most luxurianty where the land remains from 6 to nine inches under water untill the seed are nearly perfect which in this neighbourhood or on these flats is about the last of this month….the radix is a trunicated bulb, much the consistence shape and appearance of the onion, glutanous or somewhat slymy when chewed and almost tasteless and without smell in it's unprepared state…this bulb is from the size of a nutmeg to that of a hens egg and most commonly of an intermediate size or about as large as an onion of one years growth from the seed….This root is palateable but disagrees with us in every shape we have ever used it. The nativs are extreemly fond of this root and present it [to] their visiters as a great treat. When we first arrived at the Chopunnish [Nez Perce] last fall at this place our men who were half Starved made so free a use of this root the [that] it made them all sick for several days after." [Lewis and Clark. 1806 Jun 11] (Thwaites. 1904. Vol. 5, Part 1, pp. 124-131.)

Journal Entry 1805 Sep 20: "They [Chopunnish (Nez Perce)] now set before them [Clark and company] a small piece of buffaloe meat, some dried salmon, berries, and several kinds of roots. Among these last is one which is round and much like an onion in appearance and sweet to the taste: it is called quamash, and is eaten either in its natural state, or boiled into a kind of soup or made into a cake, which is then called pasheco. After the long abstinence this was a sumptuous treat…" (Lewis. 1814. Vol. 1, p. 454.)

Journal Entry 1806 Jun 23: "Our fears for the safety of Drewyer, Shannon, and Whitehouse, were fortunately relieved by their return in the afternoon. The former brought three Indians, who promised to go with us to the falls of the Missouri, for the compensation of two guns." (Lewis. 1814. Vol. 2, p. 321.)