I say, I say, I say! When is a lily not a lily? When it’s a Camassia, boom boom!

Camassia, variously known as Camas Lily, Quamash, Indian Hyacinth and Wild Hyacinth is a handsome lily-like plant native of North America and currently looking magnificent in the Harris Garden and elsewhere on campus.

OK, it looks like a lily but is it really a lily?

Taxonomically this striking bulb monocot is actually not a true lily, although it was previously assigned to the lily family (Liliaceae). More recent taxonomic treatments have relocated it within the Asparagus family (Asparagaceae – Angiosperm Phylogeny Group).

Camassia species were an important staple food of Native Americans and settlers in many part of the America Old West. After harvest in the autumn the bulbs were pit-roasted or boiled looking and tasting like an even sweeter version of baked sweet potato but with more cystaline fibres due to the inulin in the bulbs.

About drmgoeswild

Field botanist and ecologist, with a passion for plants and vegetation and teaching and learning (follow me at www.drmgoeswild.com)
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