Toxicoscordion venenosum

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For other plants named deathcamas, see deathcamas.
Death Camas
Zigadenus venenosus 0116.JPG
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Liliales
Family: Melanthiaceae
Genus: Toxicoscordion
Species: T. venenosum
Binomial name
Toxicoscordion venenosum
(S.Watson) Rydb.[1]

Zigadenus venenosus S.Watson[1]

Toxicoscordion venenosum (syn. Zigadenus venenosus), commonly called death camas or meadow deathcamas, is a flowering plant in the genus Toxicoscordion belonging to the Melanthiaceae. It grows up to 70 cm tall with long, basal, grass-like leaves. The bulbs are oval and look like onions but do not smell like onions. The flowers are cream coloured or white and grow in pointed clusters, flowering between April and July. Death camas occurs in some parts of western North America and can be easily confused with edible onions of genus Allium. They tend to grow in dry meadows and on dry hillsides as well as sagebrush slopes and montane forests.[2][3][4] The plant is called alapíšaš in Sahaptin[citation needed], and nupqasaquǂ ("nup-ka-sa-qush") in Ktunaxa).[5]

All parts of the plant are poisonous. It is dangerous for humans as well as livestock. Consumption of 2 to 6% of the body weight of the animal is likely to be fatal.[3] Along with other alkaloids, zygacine and other toxic esters of zygadenine are the primary neurotoxic alkaloids contributing to the plant's toxicity. [6]


  1. ^ a b "Toxicoscordion venenosum", World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, retrieved 2012-04-22 
  2. ^ "Zigadenus venenosus". Flora of North America. Retrieved 2011-06-12. 
  3. ^ a b "Meadow Death-camas". Montana Plant Life. Retrieved 2011-06-12. 
  4. ^ Turner, Nancy J. (1997). Food Plants of Interior First Peoples. Victoria, British Columbia: University of British Columbia Press. ISBN 0774806060. 
  5. ^ "FirstVoices- Ktunaxa words.". Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  6. ^ Majak, Walter. "Soil moisture influences low larkspur and death camas alkaloid levels". Journal of Range Management Archives. Retrieved 6 November 2013. 

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