Usually harvested in late June or July, Camas roots contain an indigestible sugar which changes to a fructose sugar after the root is cooked. The roots were sometimes boiled down into a syrup, but more often roasted in earthen pits.
Another plant, Death Camas, is of similar appearance, but has white or yellowish flowers. As the name of this plant suggests, it is usually lethal for humans. Death camas also has often been mistaken for wild onions.
Photo courtesy U.S. Bureau of Land Management.