I think I’ve identified today’s taxon, but finding photographs of Walpole’s small camas on the web seems to be near-impossible, so I’ve nothing to compare it with. However, it does key to Walpole’s small camas using Kozloff’s Plants of Western Oregon, Washington and British Columbia as well as the key to Camassia quamash taxa in Flora of North America, so I guess I’ll have to trust my abilities. That said, for those who know their camases, feel free to disagree in the comments below.
Assuming it is Camassia quamash subsp. walpolei, this subspecies of common camas (or small camas) is found only in southwest Oregon (and northwest California? Kozloff lists California, Flora of North America lists only Oregon, these photographs were taken 10km north of the Oregon-California border). Of the nine subspecies, Walpole’s small camas is differentiated by having shorter tepals and shorter pedicels than most of its counterparts, giving plants the overall appearance of having tighter and denser inflorescences (e.g., compare today’s first photograph with the Camassia quamash from the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve).
The “Walpole” of the epithet walpolei is almost certainly in honour of the botanical illustrator Frederick Andrews Walpole. And…aha! A search through the database of Walpole’s illustrations yields these two illustrations of Camassia quamash: the more typical open inflorescence of most Camassia quamash taxa and what is labelled as Camassia quamash but is almost certainly a representation of the compact inflorescence of Camassia quamash subsp. walpolei (and a great match for the plants I observed). Walpole was a contemporary, and perhaps briefly a co-worker, of Charles Piper, who originally described and published Quamasia walpolei twelve years after Walpole’s death.
These photographs were taken during a short jaunt to the Siskiyous last weekend. The location of these photographs, near Waldo Road, is an area once frequented by Thomas J. Howell, an important early Oregon botanist (read more: Thomas Jefferson Howell and the First Pacific Northwest Flora (PDF) from Kalmiopsis).