Synonyms: Helonias paniculatus, Zigadenus paniculatus
A close-eup of the inflorescence of panicled death-camas as seen on steep slopes along Canyon Creek in the Klickitat State Wildlife Area of south-central Washington..................May 8, 2009.
Panicled death camas is a beautiful but deadly lily. It is typically a single stout stem arising from 30 to 50 cm from a tunicated, ovoid bulb from 3-4 cm long. The linear leaves have parallel venation and are on the stem, but located close to the base. Those leaves found higher on the stem are much reduced in size. The longest leaves are 15 to 40 cm long and 3 to 12 mm wide.
The inflorescence is paniculate, although the upper flowers may be racemose. This means the lower panicles are clusters of flowers coming off the stem, while the upper racemes would consist of single flowers coming off the stem. The inflorescence is much longer than in the similar Zigadenus venenosus, ranging from 10 to 30 cm in length. The tepals are white or cream color, 4-5 mm long and broadly ovate in shape with ovate glands. The flowers are mostly perfect, although occasionally the lower flowers may only be staminate.
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.
Panicled death-camas may be found in sandy or rocky areas to meadows, often interspersed with sagebrush.
Panicled death-camas is common from the Pacific Coast inland to the Great Plains, north into British Columbia, and south to Baja California.