Camassia angusta

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: prairie camas 
Type: Bulb
Family: Asparagaceae
Native Range: Central and southeastern United States
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 2.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Lavender to pale purple
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Clay Soil

Culture

Best grown in moist, fertile, acidic, humusy, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers full sun, but easily tolerates open woodland part shade conditions. Plant bulbs 4-6” deep and 6” apart in fall. Tolerates clay soils. Plants need regular moisture during the periods of spring growth and bloom, but will tolerate drier conditions after bloom as the plants head for summer dormancy. Best left undisturbed once planted. Plants reproduce by bulb offsets and reseeding. Cross-pollinated flowers form seed capsules containing several seeds. Plants can be grown from seed, but will not bloom until the 3rd or 4th year.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Camassia angusta, commonly known as prairie camas, prairie hyacinth or wild hyacinth, is a spring-flowering, bulbous perennial of the lily family that typically produces one or more flowering stalks to 2 1/2’ tall which rise in spring from an upright to drooping basal foliage clump consisting of 6-12” long narrow, glabrous, linear to parallel-veined, strap-shaped, medium to dark green leaves (each to 14” long by 1” wide). Each flowering stalk is topped by a terminal raceme (to 4-12” long) of lavender to pale purple flowers (each to 3/4” across) which bloom sequentially from bottom to top in late spring (May-June). Each flower gives way to a 1/3” long seed capsule (2-5 seeds per locale). Leaves turn yellow and wither after flowering as plant appearance declines on its way to mid-summer dormancy.

This is a true bulb that is native to prairies and rocky open ground from Illinois and Missouri south to Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

C. angusta is very similar to the much more common C scilloides which blooms about one month earlier (April-May).

Genus name is derived from the Native American Indian name of kamas or quamash for a genus plant whose bulb was once used by native Americans and settlers as a food source.

Specific epithet from Latin means narrow in reference to the leaf width.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Plants stems are strong and seldom need support.

Garden Uses

Mass or plant in groups of at least 15 bulbs in wildflower meadows, open woodland areas or borders. May not deserve a prominent place in the border, however, since foliage becomes rather scruffy in appearance after bloom on its way to mid-summer dormancy. May also be utilized as an accent on the periphery of a water garden or pond.