Camas Time

Camas Time

Here on the west coast, it’s camas time.

At one time Victoria had huge camas meadows that the Coast Salish people tended and harvest their bulbs for cooking and trading.

What looked like a natural meadow was, in fact, a well cared for and manicured garden of wild edible plants.

Each plot was looked after by a family and they clear the land of debris such as stones, weeds and brush and often followed by a controlled burn.

The bulbs (which could get the size of a small onion) were harvested by digging up the camas, taking the largest bulbs and returning the smaller ones to the earth.

In this fashion, the camas grew large bulbs every year as the Coast Salish had discovered the perfect way to care and tend for the plants.

Because of these meadows of purple, it was one of the reasons that Victoria became the city it is today.

Whereas other parts of the coast had good harbours the areas were treed and rocky.

But upon finding meadows of lush native grasses, oak trees and native flowers the settlers to the new world decided that it reminded them of the English countryside and put down roots.

In doing so they decimated the camas plant by overgrazing, cultivating for agriculture and in general changing the delicate ecosystem that the plants thrived in.

Over the years the sentiment has changed as we try and bring back more of the native plants to the area and once again fields of camas are beginning to grow and prosper.

Although we will never see the vast fields of purple again, nature in all its splendour gives us a glimpse of what used to be.


  1. How interesting. I’ve never heard of a Camas plant or bulb. Good to learn something new every day.
    Thank you


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