[Death-camas East of the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and Washington]

Common Death Camas, Deadly Zigadenus, Meadow Death Camas

Toxicoscordion venenosum

Synonyms: Toxicoscordion gramineum, Zigadenus gramineus, Zigadenus intermedius, Zigadenus venenosus, Zigadenus venenosus var. gramineus, Zigadenus venenosus var. venenosus

Common Death Camas, Deadly Zigadenus, Meadow Death Camas: Toxicoscordion venenosum (Synonyms: Toxicoscordion gramineum, Zigadenus gramineus, Zigadenus intermedius, Zigadenus venenosus, Zigadenus venenosus var. gramineus, Zigadenus venenosus var. venenosus) - Inflorescence of Common Death Camas, Deadly Zigadenus, Meadow Death Camas: Toxicoscordion venenosum (Synonyms: Toxicoscordion gramineum, Zigadenus gramineus, Zigadenus intermedius, Zigadenus venenosus, Zigadenus venenosus var. gramineus, Zigadenus venenosus var. venenosus)

The photo at left shows a close-up of the racemous inflorescence of meadow death-camasas seen in vernally moist, rocky meadows at Brooks Memorial State Park near Satus Pass, Washington..........May 11, 2011. The photo at right shows the inflorescence of meadow deth-camas as seen several miles up a jeep road north of Box Canyon Road, Simcoe Mountains Unit of the Klickitat Wildlife Area......My 10, 2021.

Common Death Camas, Deadly Zigadenus, Meadow Death Camas: Toxicoscordion venenosum (Synonyms: Toxicoscordion gramineum, Zigadenus gramineus, Zigadenus intermedius, Zigadenus venenosus, Zigadenus venenosus var. gramineus, Zigadenus venenosus var. venenosus) Photo at right of Zigadenus venenosus var. venenosus at Catherine Creek, Columbia River Gorge.....4/27/97.
Characteristics:

Meadow death camas is a beautiful but deadly lily. It consists of a single stem arising to 50 cm from a ovoid bulb (2-3 cm long). The leaves are basal, linear in shape with parallel venation, and may range in length from 10 to 40 cm long. The leaves are keeled, and may be somewhat V-shaped in cross-section, especially near the base.

The inflorescence is a primarily a short raceme, rarely longer than 15 to 20 cm. The pedicels are strongly ascending. The flowers consist of six unequal tepals, all of which are separate. These are no longer than 5 mm long and ovate in shape with a thick, green, ovate gland.

To identify this plant from the similar Zigadenus paniculatus, meadow death camas has the shorter inflorescence, and where the inflorescence may be of similar length, meadow death camas has single flowers arising from the stem (see photos), while panicled death camas has clusters of flowers arising from the stem, especially in its lower inflorescence.

As mentioned above, this plant is deadly to ingest. It is sometimes found interspersed with the edible camas, and native tribes often removed it from the camas beds while both were in bloom, as the bulbs of both are similar.


Habitat:

A widespread species, meadow death-camas may be found on coastal "prairies" and on the grassy bluffs above the sea to the more arid prairie hillsides, sagebrush slopes and into montane forest openings.


Range:

Meadow death-camas is found from southern British Columbia to Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan in the north, south along both sides of the Cascades to Baja California, and east to the Great Plains of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, and Colorado.


Common Death Camas, Deadly Zigadenus, Meadow Death Camas: Toxicoscordion venenosum (Synonyms: Toxicoscordion gramineum, Zigadenus gramineus, Zigadenus intermedius, Zigadenus venenosus, Zigadenus venenosus var. gramineus, Zigadenus venenosus var. venenosus) - Common Death Camas, Deadly Zigadenus, Meadow Death Camas: Toxicoscordion venenosum (Synonyms: Toxicoscordion gramineum, Zigadenus gramineus, Zigadenus intermedius, Zigadenus venenosus, Zigadenus venenosus var. gramineus, Zigadenus venenosus var. venenosus)

Meadow death-camas observed in moist meadows along Forest Road 30 near the old Cold Springs Guard Station, southeastern corner of Big Summit Prairie, Ochoco National Forest........June 3, 2018.

Common Death Camas, Deadly Zigadenus, Meadow Death Camas: Toxicoscordion venenosum (Synonyms: Toxicoscordion gramineum, Zigadenus gramineus, Zigadenus intermedius, Zigadenus venenosus, Zigadenus venenosus var. gramineus, Zigadenus venenosus var. venenosus)

Meadow death-camas blooming on vernally moist balds at Brooks Memorial State Park off US 97 near Satus Pass.......May 13, 2019.

Flowers of Common Death Camas, Deadly Zigadenus, Meadow Death Camas: Toxicoscordion venenosum (Synonyms: Toxicoscordion gramineum, Zigadenus gramineus, Zigadenus intermedius, Zigadenus venenosus, Zigadenus venenosus var. gramineus, Zigadenus venenosus var. venenosus)


Inflorescence of Common Death Camas, Deadly Zigadenus, Meadow Death Camas: Toxicoscordion venenosum (Synonyms: Toxicoscordion gramineum, Zigadenus gramineus, Zigadenus intermedius, Zigadenus venenosus, Zigadenus venenosus var. gramineus, Zigadenus venenosus var. venenosus) - Inflorescence of Common Death Camas, Deadly Zigadenus, Meadow Death Camas: Toxicoscordion venenosum (Synonyms: Toxicoscordion gramineum, Zigadenus gramineus, Zigadenus intermedius, Zigadenus venenosus, Zigadenus venenosus var. gramineus, Zigadenus venenosus var. venenosus)

The photo at left shows a close-up of the racemous inflorescence of Meadow Death-camas at Catherine Creek, Columbia River Gorge..........April 27, 1997. The photo at right shows a close-up of the inflorescence of meadow death-camas as seen in wet meadows along Forest Road #30 just southwest of the old Cold Springs Guard Station......May 27, 2018.

Paul Slichter