The rains have slowed, the sun has returned and it appears Oregon’s spring has finally arrived.
And with spring, comes the annual camas bloom. Common camas (Camassia quamash) was originally classified as a member of the lily family but has since been reclassified, now part of the asparagus family. Wild camas are native to North America and found throughout Oregon in moisture-rich areas.
Camas are not only beautiful, but are also a “first food” for many Indigenous people throughout the Northwest. The bulbs are rich with complex carbohydrates and sugars, and can be dried, roasted, boiled or eaten raw.
OPB photographer Brandon Swanson captured last season’s bloom at the Camassia Nature Preserve in West Linn, click the video player above to see the 2022 flowers. This year’s bloom has already begun, coloring the landscape with shades of purple and violet.
In a written statement, Derek Johnson, Oregon Director of the Nature Conservancy says, “We are expecting another beautiful bloom of camas, Camassia Natural Area’s namesake flower, to peak by mid-May following a warm, sunny stretch of weather in the Portland area.”
“This is somewhat later than typical years due to lower temperatures and heavy rains in April. Camassia hosts more than 300 plant species, and alongside the camas you will currently find numerous wildflowers in the meadows like rosy plectritis, blue-eyed Mary, buttercup and western saxifrage,” he said.
If you want to see the flowers in person, consider going soon — the bloom is typically over by the end of May.