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Camassia quamash “Common Camas” Liliaceae

Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA
May 6, 2012
Robert Niese

Camas was one of the most important food plants for PNW indigenous peoples. In late spring, bulbs were collected and slow-cooked in giant pits or earthen ovens. These roasted bulbs taste similar to sweet potatoes, but are much sweeter and more fibrous. These plants were such an important food source that wars were often fought over control of the prairies in which they grow. Here in the Puget Sound, these prairie habitats were maintained through regular burning in order to preserve and promote camas growth. Today, more than 85% of these prairie ecosystems have completely disappeared and almost 20,000 of the 23,000 remaining acres can be found here on the Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Chrysolina hyperici “St. Johnswort Beetle” Chrysomelidae

Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA
May 2013
Robert Niese

In the late 1940s these beetles were introduced to California to control the spread of the weed St. Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum). The introduction of the beetles was so successful that the state erected a monument commemorating their success in Eureka, CA.