Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Zigadenus nuttallii

Nuttall's Death Camas, Death Camas, Poison-onion

Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Zigadenus nuttallii (Nuttall's death camas)
Marcus, Joseph A.
This common prairie flower grows 12 feet tall and has long, narrow leaves near the bottom of the plant. The stout stems grow out of a large, black-coated bulb, which is poisonous, as are all parts of the plant, even when dry. Sheep are often poisoned by it. Flowers are cream-colored, 1/2 inch across, growing around the top of the stem in a round-topped cluster. The stamens have large yellow anthers.

This species is similar to Camas (Z. leimanthoides) but has a papery, not fibrous, coat on the bulbous base.

Image Gallery:

29 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Feb , Mar , Apr


USA: AR , KS , LA , MO , OK , TN , TX
Native Distribution: Kansas east to Missouri and Tennessee, south to Louisiana, west to Texas, and north to Oklahoma.
Native Habitat: Prairies and open woodlands.

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Conditions Comments: Poisonous leaves arise from a dark bulb. Said to be rare because Indians would weed them from their Camus plots. Death Camus (Zigadenus nuttallii) vegatative and flower growth is very similar to the edible Camus (Camassia sp.); great care should be taken to become familiar with Death Camus as all parts of the plant are poisonous.


Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds
Deer Resistant: High

Last Update: 2015-10-23