Common Names in English:
Death Camas, Grassy Deathcamas, Meadow Death Camas, Meadow Deathcamas, Narrowleaved Death Camas
, bulbous or rhizomatous
, all parts containing toxic
contractile. Leaves usually fewer than 10, mostly basal, alternate, simple
, distal ones reduced and grading
bracts, sometimes completely sheathing
at the base
entire. Inflorescences terminal
, racemose, corymbose
, or paniculate
, 5-125-flowered, glabrous. Flowers usually bisexual
, but often staminate
on branches in panicles, protandrous, pedicellate
; perianth hypogynous or partly perigynous, white or cream colored
to greenish or red tinged, actinomorphic
, 0.5-2 cm diam.; tepals 6, often connate
basally, each bearing 1 or 2, sometimes obscure
to absent, yellow to green, adaxially basal nectary glands
; stamens 6, anthers
, dehiscence transverse
or rarely introrse
(Z. glaberrimus) ; ovary partly inferior; pistil 1, with 3 styles, tapering from ovary; stigmas 3, barely larger than diameter of style, rudimentary
in staminate flowers
; pedicel ascending
, bracts 2, green to red and foliaceous
or white and membranous. Fruits capsular
, with 3 ellipsoid
; dehiscence septicidal, then adaxially loculicidal. Seeds 2-20 per capsule, elongate
, twisted and flattened at ends. x
= 8, 11, 26.
Species ca. 18-22: North America including Mexico, Central America, e Asia (Japan, e Siberia).
The generic name was spelled Zigadenus by Michaux, but subsequently was often rendered as Zygadenus, presumably to reflect the Greek word roots more clearly. However, the original spelling has priority over that orthographic variant (W. B . Zomlefer 1997b).
As broadly circumscribed here, Zigadenus is polyphyletic (W. B. Zomlefer 1997b; W. B. Zomlefer et al. 2001) and this complex has had a complicated taxonomic and nomenclatural history (R. R. Gates 1918; O. S. Walsh 1940; S. J. Preece 1956; F. C. Schwartz 1994; W. B. Zomlefer 1997b). Numerous , variously defined segregates have been recognized, including Anticlea, Chitonia, Cyanotris, Oceanoros, Toxicoscordion, and Tracyanthus. Zigadenus shows morphological similarities to both Stenanthium (including Stenanthella Rydberg) and Amianthium. The common name death camas is derived from the illness or death resulting from ingesting bulbs of Zigadenus that were mistaken for the edible ones of Camassia, an unrelated plant. Many alkaloids found in Veratrum have been isolated from most species of Zigadenus (W. B. Zomlefer 1997b; G. E. Burrows and R. J. Tyrl 2001), including zygadenine and zygacine (T. J. Gilbertson 1973; J. B. Harborne and H. Baxter 1993). All fresh parts of the plant (leaves, bulbs, flowers) are toxic. Dried parts (especially seeds and capsules) are even more potent, presumably because the alkaloids are more concentrated. Ingestion of Zigadenus by humans may result in severe illness and occasionally death even for adults . Livestock (sheep and cattle) poisoning is a serious problem in some rangeland areas of the western United States (C. D. Marsh and A. B. Clawson 1922; V. J. Tepidino 1982). Native Americans used these plants for their analgesic, antirheumatic, and emetic properties, as dermatological and orthopedic aids, and as a snake-bite remedy (D. E. Moerman 1986).
Species Zigadenus venenosus
2-7 dm, from bulbs; bulbs not clumped, tunicate
× 8-20 mm.
12-50 cm × 2-10 mm.
Inflorescences racemose or paniculate
with 1 or 2 basal branches,
, 2-20 ×
2-5 cm, branches (if any) 1/10-1/3 length
of entire inflorescence,
diverging from main axis at 10°-60° when in fruit. Flowers:
perianth hy-pogynous, campanulate
, 5-10 mm diam.; tepals persistent
in fruit, cream colored
, 2-5 × 1-3 mm, outer often clawed,
apex usually acute; gland
, distal margins
evident to obscure
straight, usually equaling tepals, occasionally
, thickened proximally; pedicel usually ascending
occasionally perpendicular to stem, 3-25 mm, bracts usually green,
sometimes white, 5-25 mm. Capsules 8-20 × 4-7 mm. 2n = 22.
Zigadenus venenosus is a smaller, more slender plant than either Z. paniculatus or Z. fontanus. It can be distinguished from Z. micranthus by its ascending pedicels. It has a much broader distribution than either Z. micranthus or Z. fontanus, and does not occur on serpentine substrates. [source]
Flowers: Flower Color: cream, tan
Size: 24-36" tall.
Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 3,180 meters (0 to 10,433 feet).
Culture: Space 3-6" apart.
Sunlight: Sun Exposure: Full Sun .
Temperature: Cold Hardiness: 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b. (map)
- Whittaker & Margulis,1978
- Haeckel, 1866
- Cavalier-Smith, 1981
- Sinnott, 1935 ex Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Vascular Plants
- Kenrick & Crane, 1997
- Brongniart, 1843
- Takhtajan, 1967
- Takhtajan, 1967
- Order: Liliales () - Perleb, 1826
- Superorder: Lilianae () - Takhtajan, 1967
- Subclass: Liliidae () - Takhtajan, 1967
- Class: Spermatopsida () - Brongniart, 1843
- Infraphylum: Radiatopses () - Kenrick & Crane, 1997
- Subphylum: Euphyllophytina ()
- Phylum: Tracheophyta () - Sinnott, 1935 ex Cavalier-Smith, 1998 - Vascular Plants
- Subkingdom: Viridaeplantae () - Cavalier-Smith, 1981
- Kingdom: Plantae () - Haeckel, 1866 - Plants
Toxicoscordion venenosum (S. Watson) Rydberg
Publishing author : S.Watson Publication : Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts xiv. (1879) 279.
Members of the genus Zigadenus
ZipcodeZoo has pages for 23 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus:
Z. brevibracteatus (Desert Death Camas) · Z. densus (Black Snakeroot) · Z. elegans (Elegant Camas) · Z. elegans glaucus (Mountain Deathcamas) · Z. exaltatus (Giant Death Camas) · Z. fremontii (Death Camas) · Z. fremontii var. fremontii (Fremont's Deathcamas) · Z. glaberrimus (Atlantic Death Camas) · Z. glaucus glaucus (Mountain Deathcamas) · Z. leimanthoides (Pinebarren Death Camas) · Z. micranthus (Small-Flowered Death Camas) · Z. micranthus var. fontanus (Smallflower Deathcamas) · Z. micranthus var. micranthus (Smallflower Deathcamas) · Z. mogollonensis (Mogoll Deathcamas) · Z. nuttallii (Nuttall Deathcamas) · Z. paniculatus (Foothill Deathcamas) · Z. vaginatus (Sheathed Death Camas) · Z. venenosus (Death Camas) · Z. venenosus var. gramineus (Grassy Deathcamas) · Z. venenosus var. venenosus (Death Camas) · Z. venosus (Death Camas) · Z. virescens (Green Death Camas) · Z. volcanicus (Lava Deathcamas)
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- Global Biodiversity Information Facility. Accessed February 28, 2008. http://www.gbif.org Mediated distribution data from 8 providers.
- The International Plant Names Index. Accessed Dec 27, 2011.
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Accessed through GBIF Data Portal February 28, 2008:
- Arizona State University, International Institute for Species Exploration: The Deaver Herbarium, Northern Arizona University
- Berkeley Natural History Museums: University and Jepson Herbaria DiGIR provider
- Burke Museum: Vascular Plant Collection - University of Washington Herbarium (WTU)
- Canadian Museum of Nature: Canadian Museum of Nature Herbarium
- Missouri Botanical Garden
- Oregon State University: Vascular Plant Collection
- University of Colorado Museum: Zoological specimens
- USDA PLANTS: USDA PLANTS Database
- Utah State University: USU-UTC Specimen Database
- Biodiversity Heritage Library NamebankID: 2662763
- Catalogue of Life Accepted Name Code: ITS-43168
- Globally Unique Identifier: urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:271411-2
- GRIN Nomen Number: 410396
- Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Taxonomic Serial Number (TSN): 43168
- International Plant Names Index (IPNI) ID: 271411-2
- U.S.D.A. Plant Symbol: ZIVEV
- Zipcode Zoo Species Identifier: 68094
- Fayla C. Schwartz "Zigadenus". in Flora of North America Vol. 26 Page 14, 53, 54, 81, 82, 88, 90, 303. Oxford University Press. Online at EFloras.org. [back]
- Mean = 1,214.020 meters (3,983.005 feet), Standard Deviation = 719.430 based on 286 observations. Altitude information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]