Toxicoscordion Venenosus - Meadow Death-camas

Phylum: Anthophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Liliales - Family: Melanthiaceae

Meadow Death-camas - Zigadenus venenosus

Above: Beautiful but deadly - every part of this plant is very poisonous

Like its close relative Elegant Death Camas - Anticlea elegans, Meadow Death-camas is poisonous. Both species contain an alkaloid called zygadenine which causes irregular breathing and heartbeat leading to convulsions and heart attacks.

The flowers form a dense, creamy raceme and the overall plant reaches a height between 10 - 30cm. It flowers from early spring through to the end of June and tolerates a range of habitats from plains and grassy areas to montane forests and alpine meadows.

Meadow Death-camas is distributed widely throughout the west from British Columbia and south to Nebraska, Colorado and Calinfornia.

The specimen shown on this page was photographed in Yellowstone National Park in late June.