Camas Heralds the Arrival of Spring

Pollinator visiting camas (photo by Jason Faucera)

Pollinator visiting camas (photo by Jason Faucera)

The beautiful blue flower of the native camas plant heralds the arrival of spring in the Willamette Valley. Oregon is home to 65% of the named species of camas, their habitat ranging from sea level to an elevation of over 10,800 feet. Native Americans used camas as one of their major food sources. Bulbs were harvested, ground, and stored in cake-form or baked in earthen ovens for special gatherings. Valued also as an item of trade, camas is a culturally important plant.

Fields of camas can be found in wetlands, grasslands, and oak savannah from California to coastal British Columbia. Unfortunately much of this land is being converted to other land uses, so habitat for many of our native species, both plants and animals, is shrinking.

Through the efforts of a number of organizations including Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District, camas habitat is being protected and in some cases restored. Over the past few years the District has actively worked to restore over 40 acres of oak savannah and 20 acres of wet prairie land. These projects support many native species, from small pollinators such as bees and butterflies to large animals such as elk.

If the idea of restoring or preserving habitat on your property for our native species is appealing, contact the District at 503-210-6000. We will be happy to assist you!

(Camas facts from an entry by Susan Kephart in the Oregon Encyclopedia online.)

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