Campus & Community Ecology
Camas plants (Camassia quamash) have
a bright blue or white stalk of flowers and grow from a bulb that
favors wet meadows that dry out by mid summer. One of the projects
supported by the WSU Native Plant & Landscape Restoration Nursery
is to grow bulbs to more widely restore the beautiful flowers of camas,
originally an important food plant for the region's native peoples.
Prior to Euro-American settlement, camas meadows and prairies
formed dense, dark-blue carpets that first appeared to be lakes to
early explorers, like those in the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Camas bulbs were so valuable that combined with other root foods,
they probably formed over 50% of the diet of native people and bitter
conflicts were fought over access to prime camas meadows when white
land settlement restricted traditional land use.
campus contains numerous sites that are suitable for the reintroduction
and restoration of camas bulbs in wet meadow habitats. However,
the techniques for restoring wet meadows in former Palouse Prairie
are not well documented and this project is needed to develop basic
ecological information that can then be applied in restoration efforts.
campus ecology project is especially suitable for undergraduate or
graduate students interested in botany and plant ecology, environmental
horticulture, landscape architecture and design, natural resource
management, and restoration ecology.
involves work during spring and summer, but has aspects that continue
during most of the year, including seed collection, growing new bulbs,
and conducting studies of restoration success and techniques. Individuals wishing to participate in this study should contact
the Campus & Community Ecology Project.