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Camassia leichtlinii

Camassia leichtlinii

This beautiful blue bulbous flower will be a big hit on the Main Border roundel this year. There are many other plantings of Camassia, some naturalized, throughout the garden including other species.

Vital statistics

Common name
Large or great camas
Height & spread
100cm (40in) x 20cm (8in)
Moist, well-drained, humus-rich soil
Partial shade
Frost hardy


Camassia is a genus of six species of bulbous perennials from the damp fertile meadow lands of North America. The name Camassia is derived from the name kamas given by the Nootka Chinook native American people.

The bulbs are generally large and ovoid or spherical and those of the Camassia quamash have been used by the native people of western USA and Canada as food. When cooked they apparently look and taste like a sweet potato.

The naming of Camas county, Idaho, indicates the importance of this plant to early settlers and native people. We, however, grow camassias for their flowers, which are large and showy and either cup or star shaped. Their colours are blue, purple or white. Camassias produce basal bright green leaves that are narrow, linear and channelled.

Camassia leichtlinii

This species comes from west of the Cascade Mountains from British Columbia to the Sierra Nevada. Upright flower spikes of star-shaped flowers are produced in late spring. Each flower is 5- 7cm wide and consists of six petals. The flower segments twist together as they fade. The leaves are linear and 20-60cm long.

This plant is ideal for a woodland area, border or wild flower meadow.


  • Camassia leichtlinii should be grown in moist but well-drained, humus-rich, soil in partial shade.
  • The bulbs should be planted 10cm deep in autumn.
  • Areas that are prone to extended frosts should be mulched in winter for protection.
  • They are not troubled by pests and diseases.


  • Seed can be sown as soon as ripe in containers in a cold frame.
  • Alternatively offsets can be removed from bulbs in the dormant summer period.
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