This Spring we are noticing so much camas growing on Snoqualmie Tribe’s Administrative Campus.

c̓abid, or camas, is an important traditional food for Snoqualmie Tribe.

The Tribe’s Environmental & Natural Resource Department (ENR) is making efforts to restore camas to our landscape, starting in our native plant nursery. More about camas can be found below.
You can also learn more about camas by visiting the Tribe’s Culture Department website.

Many seeds germinating in the ENR Native Plant Nursery.

Camas seeds

Camas Seeds

At the ENR Native Plant Nursery, we are growing camas from seeds. Last winter, on one of the darkest days in December, we planted some of the shiny black seeds into a raised bed prepared with sandy soils. We sowed both Common Camas (Camassia quamash) and Great Camas (Camassia leichtlinii). The Common Camas seeds were harvested at Jenkin’s Prairie in Covington in 2018 – one of the few remaining original prairies in our region. The Great Camas seeds were from the gardens at Oxbow Farm and Conservation Center. Checking on the raised bed now, the hundreds of young camas seedlings are hard to miss!

 

 

Planting camas seeds in December of 2022.

Camas Bulbs

Camas seeds sprouting in a planter in the ENR nursery.

Over winter camas will go dormant, saving their energy below ground in a bulb and biding their time until spring comes again.  The bulb grows bigger each year and is the part which is harvested for food.  It can take 7 years or more before the camas starts to flower, and last year we found a few at the nursery that are old enough.  We are hoping for more this year!

Washington Conservation Corps support the work of the Tribe and have helped to replant the camas as bulbs have grown.  As the camas in our nursery continues to mature, we will need to go back, dig in, and give them more space to grow.

 

 

 

 

The Snoqualmie Tribe’s WCC crew plants camas together in the sun.

Camas and other food in spədalikʷ ʔə ti bək̓ʷaʔkʷbixʷ

Camas is Food

Camas is growing in spədalikʷ ʔə ti bək̓ʷaʔkʷbixʷ (the Tribal Community Garden) along with other traditional foods and medicine.  This is part of Snoqualmie Tribe practicing food sovereignty- this traditional food is available now and for future generations.

Camas in the Landscape

So, if you are a visitor or work at Snoqualmie Tribe’s Administrative Campus, now is the time to look out for camas. With all the young seedlings there’s even more than last year, growing throughout the native plant landscaping.

Lots of camas under the trees by the Administration building.

 

And just a few more weeks until the flowers!

An image of the camas flower in late Spring

Bright blue camas flowers are a sure sign of spring.