Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Camassia quamash (Pursh) Greene

Half-hardy, clump-forming bulbous perennial with linear leaves to 50cm, and racemes, to 30cm, of shallowly cup-shaped blue flowers.  [RHSD, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘The specific name of Quamash […] is the appellation given to the plant by certain Indians in the neighbourhood of the Missouri River, in whose country it is spontaneous, and where it serves them as a principal article of food during the winter.’  [BM t.1574/1813].  A white flowered form is figured in a later volume.  ‘I have given a description of this interesting and very desirable plant, because, although the blue-flowered state of it is already published at tab. 1574 of this work, yet, in the shape and size of those blossoms, there is a considerable difference from those here figured.  Our blue and white-flowered varieties agree in every thing excepting colour.  It will be seen by Mr. Gawler’s figure [t.1574], that the flowers there are not half so large as these; nor is the irregularity of the petals there observed, which is so striking in our plant, and is indicated even in the bud: so that, probably, this irregularity, taken in conjunction with the persistent corolla, will, at some future time, when we shall be better acquainted with the fruit, cause this plant to be separated from Scilla, no less than from Phalangium and Anthericum, with which it has, by some authors, been placed.’  [BM t.2774/1827].  Scilla esculenta Ker-Gawl. [BM t.1574/1813] may be Camassia fraseri Torr., a similar and related species.

Introduced to Britain in 1811.  [JD].

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1845, 1850 and 1857 catalogues [B.405/1845].


Published Jan 09, 2010 - 04:29 PM | Last updated Jul 22, 2010 - 05:06 PM

Figured are bulb, lance-shaped leaves and raceme of cup-shaped blue flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.1574, 1813.

Camassia quamash (Pursh) Greene | BM t.1574/1813 | BHL

Family Hyacinthaceae
Region of origin

North America

  • Quamasia esculenta Coville
  • Camassia esculenta Lindl.
  • Scilla esculenta Ker-Gawl.
  • Phalangium quamash Pursh
  • Phalangium exculentum Nutt.
  • Anthericum esculentum Spreng.
Common Name

Missouri squill, Quamash

Name in the Camden Park Record

Scilla esculenta  

Confidence level high