Camas, Camassia leichtlinii, re-establishing in 2014 after the 2009 lightning fire on Hwmet’utsum

2014 May 8 Camassia leichtlinii after the 2009 lightning fire midway up Hwmet’utsum at the north end of Mount Maxwell Provincial Park adjacent to Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve  * photograph by castle & ingram


This camas, Camassia leichtlinii, a major Salish food plant, is quickly disappearing from Salt Spring Island’s Hwmet’utsum (Mount Maxwell) a historic Cowichan gathering, cultural burning, and management area. Two factors for the disappearance of camas from protected areas in the area is predator suppression leading to extremely high levels of deer browsing and fire suppression which is contributing to Douglas fir trees growing shading out Garry oak meadows. This small population was re-establishing after wildfire (that probably stimulated seed germination) in the 2009 June 12 – 15 burn area. Unfortunately, this particular clump of camas was browsed to their roots a few days after this photograph was taken and blooms on this site have not been seen since.