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Schoenocaulon officinale - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-262.jpg
Schoenocaulon officinale[1]
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Liliales
Family: Melanthiaceae
Genus: Schoenocaulon
Asa Gray
  • Sabadilla Brandt & Ratzeb.
  • Skoinolon Raf.
  • Asagraea Lindl.

Schoenocaulon is a North American genus of perennial herbaceous flowering plants, ranging from the southern United States to Peru.[3] It is a member of the Melanthiaceae, according to the APG III classification system, and is placed in the tribe Melanthieae. Unlike other genera in the tribe, the flowers are arranged in a spike; depending on the species the flower stalks for each flower are either very short or completely absent.[4] Feathershank is a common name.[5]

Plants generally grow in chaparral, oak, or pine forests. Grazing has narrowed the natural ranges of some species to only steep, rocky terrain.[6] Mexico is the center of Schoenocaulon diversity, with 22 endemic species - some with distributions limited to single mountain ranges.[4] The two species with the widest distributions, S. yucatanense (sometimes treated as part of S. ghiesbreghtii) and S. officinale (sabadilla), may have been spread by pre-Columbians who used the seeds as pesticides.[4]

The petal and sepal color varies by species, with some shade of green being most common, but with maroon, cream, and bright red also represented.[4]



  1. ^ 1897 illustration from Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen
  2. ^ a b Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  3. ^ Zomlefer, W.B. and W.S. Judd. Systematic Botany (2008), 33(1): pp. 117–124
  4. ^ a b c d Wendy B. Zomlefer, W. Mark Whitten, Norris H. Williams and Walter S. Judd (2006), "Infrageneric phylogeny of Schoenocaulon (Liliales: Melanthiaceae) with clarification of cryptic species based on ITS sequence data and geographical distribution", American Journal of Botany, 93: 1178–1192, PMID 21642183, doi:10.3732/ajb.93.8.1178 
  5. ^ "Schoenocaulon". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 7 November 2015. 
  6. ^ Frame, D. 1990. A revision of Schoenocaulon (Liliaceae: Melanthieae). Ph. D. Thesis. The City University of New York. New York. 269 pp.

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