Toxicoscordion venenosum

From Puget Prairie Plants
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  • Scientific Name: Toxicoscordion venenosum var. venenosum
  • Family: Melanthiaceae
  • Common Names: death camas, meadow death camas, common death camas, deadly zigadenus.
  • Synonyms and Misapplications: Zigadenus venenosus
  • Codon: TOXVEN

Toxicoscordion venenosum. Photo Ben Legler 2004, also featured on Main Page


Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Subkingdom: Viridiplantae
Phylum: Tracheophyta
Subphylum: Spermatophytina
Class: Liliopsida
Subclass: Lilidae
Order: Liales
Family: Melanthiaceae
Genus: Toxicoscordion Rydb.
Species: Toxicoscordion venenosum (S. Watson) Rydb.
  • Zigadenus venenosus



General: Glabrous perennial herb from an onion-like bulb, the simple stem 2-5 dm. tall. Leaves: Leaves mostly basal, linear, keeled, 1-3 dm. long and 3-6 mm. broad; cauline leaves strongly reduced upward. Flowers: Inflorescence a raceme (but sometimes the raceme branched at the base) up to 1.5 dm. long, the flowers all perfect; perianth white to cream-colored, bell-shaped; tepals 6, slightly unequal, the outer 4.5-5 mm. long, short-clawed, the inner about 0.5 mm. longer with a narrower, slightly longer claw; the gland at the base of each tepal yellowish-green, broader than long; stamens 6, about equal to the tepals; styles 3, distinct, 2-3 mm. long. Fruit: Capsule 8-15 mm. long.[2]

Bloom Period



British Columbia to Baja California, east to the Dakotas; var. venenosum more common west of the Cascades in Washington, var. graminaeum common in Eastern WA.[3]


Coastal bluffs and prairies, grassy hillsides, and moister areas of shrub-steppe and open pine woodlands[3]


Medicinal Uses

Traditionally used as a violent emetic, sometimes mixed with blue flag; poultice of mashed roots applied to rheumatism, boils, bruises, sprains, sore legs, burns, swellings, rattlesnake bites, and broken bones to speed healing; mashed roots sometimes used as an arrow poison.[4]

Photo Gallery


  1. Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved from
  2. 2.0 2.1 WTU Herbarium, Burke Museum, & University of Washington. Retrieved from
  3. 3.0 3.1 Hitchcock, C. L., Cronquist, A., Giblin, D., & Legler, B. et al. (2018). Flora of the Pacific Northwest: an illustrated manual. Seattle: University of Washington Press
  4. Native American Ethnobotany Database. Retrieved from