Camassia leichtlinii

21 May

Camassia leichtlinii Flower (05/05/2012, Kew, London)

Camassia leichtlinii Flower (05/05/2012, Kew, London)

Position: Sun to partial shade

Flowering period: Late spring to early summer

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 1.2m

Eventual Spread: 20cm

Hardiness: 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b 

Family:  Asparagaceae

Sub Family: Agavoideae

Camassia leichtlinii is an upright bulbous perennial. Its mid green leaves are linear, narrow, channeled, up to 60cm long and basal like. Its purple flowers are star shaped and are composed of 6 petals which vary in colour and are up to 10cm across. They appear in racemes on multi flowered stem growing to a height of up to 50cm above the foliage. Its black seeds are ovoid and up to 2mm long.

Camassia leichtlinii, commonly known as Great Camas, Large Camas, Quamash and Quamasia, is native to south west Canada and north west United States. In its native habitat they grow in damp meadows and stream banks.

The etymological root of the binomial name Camassia is derived from Quamash, the N. American Indian name for Camassia esculenta. Leichtlinii is named after Max Leitchlin (1831-1910) a German horticulturist and botanist.

Camassia leichtlinii (05/05/2012, Kew, London)

Camassia leichtlinii (05/05/2012, Kew, London)

The landscape architect may find Camassia leichtlinii useful for planting en mass in areas of wild grass, including banks slopes where regular maintenance will not occur, as the stems should be left after flowering. It is also useful in dappled shade locations.

Ecologically, Camassia leichtlinii is attractive to bees and pollinating insects.

The Royal Horticultural Society has given Camassia leichtlinii subsp. leichtlinii their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

Camassia leichtlinii prefers moist, fertile, humus rich well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Camassia leichtlinii requires little maintenance. If naturalised in meadow the leaves should be allowed to naturally die back before cutting the grass.


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