Toxicoscordion venenosum

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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



Native, perennial herb growing from a layered bulb with a raceme of white and cream flowers, 20 to 50 cm tall.[2] Stems simple,[3] glabrous.[4] Leaves basally concentrated, linear, keeled, to 30 cm long; reduced cauline leaves above.[3] Flowers perfect, perianth subrotate, tepals 6, often short-clawed; stamens 6, longer or equal to the tepals; pistil with 3 styles, ovary superior, 3-locular,[5] becoming a capsule, 8-15 mm long.[3]

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.[5]


Coastal bluffs and prairies, grassy hillsides, and moist areas of shrub-steppe and open pine woodlands[5]


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.[6]

Photo Gallery


  1. Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved from
  2. Bowcutt, F., & Hamman, S. (2016). Vascular Plants of the South Sound Prairies. Olympia: The Evergreen State College Press. p. 120.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 WTU Herbarium, Burke Museum, & University of Washington. Retrieved from
  4. Jepson Herbarium Online Flora. Retrieved from
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 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
  6. Native American Ethnobotany Database. Retrieved from