Camassia scilloides (Raf.) Cory

Wild Hyacinth


CC = 6
CW = 3
MOC = 75

© DETenaglia

Family - Liliaceae

Habit - Perennial forb, from a bulb, lacking odor of onion.

Stems - Erect, to 75 cm, single and unbranched, glabrous, scapose.

Leaves - Basal leaves 20-45 cm long, linear, straplike, flat with a raised midrib underneath, sometimes folded longitudinally in the lower half, glabrous, entire, dull green above, shiny deep green below. Stem leaves 0-2, much reduced, bractlike.

Camassia_scilloides_basals.jpg Basal leaves.

© SRTurner

Camassia_scilloides_leaves1.jpg Basal leaf blades.

© SRTurner

Camassia_scilloides_leaves.jpg Stem leaves.

© SRTurner

Inflorescence - Terminal raceme, indeterminate, with 7-50 flowers. Flower pedicels subtended by small, linear bracts to 1 cm long.

Camassia_scilloides_inflorescence2.jpg Inflorescence.

© SRTurner

Camassia_scilloides_inflorescence3.jpg Detail.

© SRTurner

Camassia_scilloides_bracts.jpg Bracts.

© SRTurner

Flowers - Perianth to 2 cm broad, nectariferous. Tepals free, white, nearly always with some degree of lilac or pale blue shading, with 3-7 nerves, glabrous. Pedicels to 1cm long, elongating in fruit, glabrous. Stamens 6, free, borne at base of tepals. Filaments 6 mm long, glabrous. Anthers yellow, 3 mm long, 1.2 mm broad. Ovary superior, glabrous, 3 mm long, ovoid, with 3 locules, each with 2-5 ovules, placentation axile. Style 1, 3 mm long, glabrous, white. Stigma 3-lobed.

Camassia_scilloides_flowers.jpg Flowers.

© SRTurner

Camassia_scilloides_flower2.jpg Flower.

© SRTurner

Camassia_scilloides_perianth.jpg Perianth.

© SRTurner

Fruits - Capsules 6-10 mm long, ovoid to obovoid, three-lobed.

Camassia_scilloides_fruits.jpg Fruits.

© SRTurner

Camassia_scilloides_fruits2.jpg Fruits.

© SRTurner

Camassia_scilloides_fruits3.jpg Fruit section.

© SRTurner

Camassia_scilloides_fruits4.jpg Fruit section with maturing seeds.

© SRTurner

Flowering - April - May.

Habitat - Open woods, stream banks, glades, bluff ledges, prairies, fields, roadsides.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Lookalikes - Camassia angusta.

Other info. - This delicately beautiful species is found across most of Missouri, except for the far northwestern and southeastern corners of the state. Its U.S. distribution is restricted to the eastern half of the country. It is probably more abundant in Missouri than any other state. Its showy inflorescences are easily recognized, although can be easily confused with those of Missouri's other member of the genus, C. angusta. The latter species is far less common, and is distinguished by having more flowers on the inflorescence and up to 24 stem leaves.

The flowers of this species are variable in color, ranging from pale blue to white. The bulbs are edible and those of western species have been used as a food source by Native Americans. Bulbs of eastern species are normally cooked before being consumed. Great care must be taken in tasting the bulbs, since there are many highly poisonous plants which look similar. Camassia scilloides is popular among insects, and seems to be a favorite of beeflies.

Camassia_scilloides_beefly.jpg Nectaring beefly.

© SRTurner

Photographs taken off Highway 70, Callaway County, MO., 5-3-04 (DETenaglia); also at Shaw Nature Reserve, Franklin County, MO, 4-29-2007, 4-27-2010, 5-14-2022, and 5-17-2022, and Greensfelder County Park, St. Louis County, MO, 4-20-2010, Washington State Park, Washington County, MO, 4-14-2011 and 5-3-2014, and Young Conservation Area, Jefferson County, MO, 5-2-2013 (SRTurner).