Camassia leichtlinii (Bak.) S. Wats.

Large Camas, Wild Hyacinth

Photography: Dr. Allan Armitage

Range: Western N. America - British Columbia to S. California and Nevada

Climate, elevation: Hardy to -40° C, Sea level to 650’

Local occurrence (where, how common): Common

Habitat preferences: Meadows, prairies and hillsides that are moist in early spring.  Likes sun but tolerates light shade.

Plant strategy type/successional stage: This plant is a grassland forb.  There is some evidence to suggest that it may expand its range after fire and enjoy sites opened by disturbance.

Associated Species:  Elymus glaucus, Danthonia californica, Festuca roemerii, Mains fusca, Prunus emarginata, Ribes sanguineum, Aster subspicatus, Camassia quamash, Ranunculus occidentalis, Trifolium microdon, Trifolium microcephalum, Montia perfoliata, Brodiaea hyacinthine, Dodecatheon pulchellum, Brodiaea coronaria, Allium cernuum

May be collected as: Seeds or bulb offsets

Collection restrictions or guidelines: Unlisted (no restrictions).  Collect seed when ripe in July

Seed germination:  Best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame or can also be sown in a cold frame in spring.  Germination takes 1 - 6 months at 15°c, but it can be erratic.

Seed life: Fresh sowing is recommended although success has been had after six months of storage

Recommended seed storage conditions: Cool and dry

Propagation recommendations: Sow the seed thinly so that it does not need to be thinned and allow the seedlings to grow on undisturbed for their first year. Give an occasional liquid feed to ensure that the plants do not become nutrient deficient. When the plants are dormant in late summer, pot up the small bulbs putting 2 - 3 bulbs in each pot. Grow them on for another one or two years in a cold frame before planting them out when dormant in late summer.  Can also be propagated from offsets in late summer. The bulb has to be scored in order to produce offsets.

Soil or medium requirements:  Enjoys heavy loam mixes, but tolerant of other soil types.  Needs moisture during growing season.

Installation form: Dormant bulbs

Recommended planting density:  15-18 in. (38-45 cm)

Care requirements after installed: Goes dormant in summer and does not need follow up watering

Normal rate of growth or spread; lifespan: Long lived, spreads readily by seed

Sources cited:

Bein, M. and L. Heinbuch, UVic Garry Oak Meadow Restoration Project, September 23, 2003,, (Accessed 5/21/06)


Dave’s Garden, Dave Whitinger,, (Accessed 5/21/06)


Dunwiddie, P.W., Management and Restoration of Grasslands on Yellow Island, San Juan Islands, Washington, USA, Conserve On-Line Documents,, (Accessed 5/21/06)


Plants for a Future, Rich Morris 2004, England and Wales, (Accessed May 21, 2006)

USDA, PLANTS database. (Accessed 5/21/06)

Data compiled by: Sierra Smith 5/9/06