The boys and I dug Camas root in the Meadow the other day. What is Camas root you might ask? We live at Camas Meadows Bible Camp and the reason the mountain meadow we live on is called Camas Meadows is because of these tall blue flowers that cover the land, usually in early June. It was late June this year and following the tradition of the native tribes in our area we decided to go and dig up some of the roots of these blue flowers (never ever dig up the white ones) and then of course eat them. Now I explained to the boys that native tribes would mix the boiled Camas root with berries and animal fat and save this concoction for eating over the long winter…this did not impress and we all decided on topping our harvest with butter, salt, and pepper.
And so our digging commenced. Have you ever attempted to dig the root of a thistle out of your garden…then you know how deep these seemingly simple plants can push their roots. But the boys jumped in with wild abandon and were much more dedicated and successful than I. They delved deeply into the soil, popping up the glossy white bulbs and piling them into our basket. In the end I think we had ten. And despite the tiny size of our pile, I dutifully took them home, cleaned them up, and boiled the heck out of them while the boys were in the bath. Then butter, salt, pepper and I had the privilege of watching three young men who refuse to touch a potato, snork down Camas root and beg for more. They taste exactly the same, so perhaps there is hope for future potato consumption somewhere in this story. In the end we were still quite hungry and had to eat graham crackers and whatnot to finish out the snack. But still, the roots tasted all the sweeter for the sweat and toil and dirt under our fingernails that we acquired in getting them.
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Sounds like fun for both you and the boys. Why should you not dig up the roots for the white flowers? Are they poisonous?
The white flowers are called “Death Camas” and are said to be poisonous, as the name implies.