Toxicoscordion venenosum

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For other plants named deathcamas, see deathcamas.
Toxicoscordion venenosum
Death camas
Zigadenus venenosus 0116.JPG
in Kingston Prairie Preserve,
near Stayton, Oregon
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
  • 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]


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