Toxicoscordion venenosum

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Toxicoscordion venenosum
Zigadenus venenosus 0116.JPG
In Kingston Prairie Preserve, near Stayton, Oregon
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Liliales
Family: Melanthiaceae
Genus: Toxicoscordion
T. venenosum
Binomial name
Toxicoscordion venenosum
(S.Watson) Rydb.[1]
  • Zigadenus venenosus S.Watson
  • Toxicoscordion arenicola A.Heller
  • Zigadenus venenosus var. ambiguus M.E.Jones
  • Zigadenus salinus A.Nelson
  • Toxicoscordion salinum (A.Nelson) R.R.Gates
  • Zigadenus diegoensis Davidson
  • Toxicoscordion gramineum (Rydb.) Rydb., syn of var. gramineum
  • Zigadenus venenosus var. gramineus (Rydb.) O.S.Walsh ex M.Peck, syn of var. gramineum
  • Zygadenus venenosus S.Watson, alternate spelling
  • Zygadenus salinus A.Nelson, alternate spelling
  • Zygadenus diegoensis Davidson, alternate spelling
  • Zygadenus gramineus Rydb., alternate spelling, syn of var. gramineum

Toxicoscordion venenosum, with the common names death camas and meadow death camas, is a species of flowering plants in the genus Toxicoscordion, of the Melanthiaceae family. It is native to western North America.

The plant is called alapíšaš in Sahaptin,[2] and nupqasaquǂ ("nup-ka-sa-qush") in Ktunaxa).[2]


Toxicoscordion venenosum 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 edible onions of the genus Allium.[3]

The flowers are cream coloured or white and grow in pointed clusters, flowering between April and July.


Varieties include:[1]

  • Toxicoscordion venenosum var. gramineum (Rydb.) Brasher
  • Toxicoscordion venenosum var. venenosum — a variety or the solo current species classification[4][5]


The plant is widespread across much of Western Canada, the Western United States, and northern Baja California (México).[1][6][7][8][9] They tend to grow in dry meadows and on dry hillsides as well as sagebrush slopes and montane forests.[6][10][11]


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.[12][10] Along with other alkaloids, zygacine and other toxic esters of zygadenine are the primary neurotoxic alkaloids contributing to the plant's toxicity. [13]


  1. ^ a b c d "Toxicoscordion venenosum", World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, retrieved 2012-04-22
  2. ^ a b "FirstVoices- Ktunaxa words". Retrieved 2012-07-07.
  3. ^ Montana Plant Life: Meadow Death-camas Zigadenus venenosus
  4. ^ Calflora Database: Toxicoscordion venenosum var. venenosum (variety of species)
  5. ^ Jepson: Toxicoscordion venenosum var. venenosum (current species classification)
  6. ^ a b "Zigadenus venenosus". Flora of North America. Retrieved 2011-06-12.
  7. ^ Biota of North America Program 2014 county distribution map
  8. ^ Tropicos, specimen listing for Zigadenus venenosus S. Watson
  9. ^ Caflora taxon report, University of California, Toxicoscordion venenosum (S. Watson) Rydb. Meadow deathcamas
  10. ^ a b "Meadow Death-camas". Montana Plant Life. Archived from the original on 2004-08-29. Retrieved 2011-06-12.
  11. ^ Turner, Nancy J. (1997). Food Plants of Interior First Peoples. Victoria, British Columbia: University of British Columbia Press. ISBN 0774806060.
  12. ^ Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System: Zigadenus venenosus Archived 2012-04-02 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ 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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