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Camassia leichtlinii (great camas)

Great camas is a bulbous plant native to North America, with broader leaves than other species of this genus, that bears many star-shaped blue or whitish flowers.
Purple flowers of great camas

Camassia leichtlinii (Photo: James Morley)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Camassia leichtlinii (Baker) S.Watson

Common name: 

great camas, large camas, quamash

Conservation status: 

Not known to be threatened.


Damp meadows.

Key Uses: 

Ornamental, edible bulbs.

Known hazards: 

None known, but poisonings have occurred when the similar-looking bulbs of the death camus Toxicoscordion venenosum (formerly Zigadenus venenosus; Melanthiaceae) have been eaten by mistake.


Genus: Camassia

About this species

Camassia leichtlinii was named in honour of Maximilian Leichtlin (1831-1910) of Baden Baden. He was a keen grower and hybridiser of bulbous plants, and corresponded regularly with Kew botanist J.G. Baker, often exchanging plants with the Gardens. It is the tallest of the six species within the genus Camassia, and one of the best bulbs for naturalising in long grass. It has star-shaped flowers, which open in the afternoon and are creamy-white, pale green, blue or purplish, and can be double. There are two subspecies: C. leichtlinii subsp. leichtlinii which usually has white flowers, and C. leichtlinii subsp. suksdorfii, which has blue or purplish flowers. The cultivar C. leichtlinii ‘Lady Eva Price’ is named after the wife of Sir Henry Price, who was the owner of Wakehurst in the 1960s. It is a particularly attractive form of C. leichtlinii subsp. suksdorfii.


Camassia esculenta var. leichtlinii, Quamasia leichtlinii, Camassia leichtlinii subsp. typica


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