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Vick, Albert F. W.
Amianthium muscitoxicum (Walt.) Gray
Fly poison, Crow poison
USDA Symbol: AMMU
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
The numerous narrow, elongated leaves and the 12-24 in. flower stalk superficially resemble common hyacinth. Flowers, occuring in a dense, showy raceme are first white, then bronzy-green. Leaves tend to spread outward and arch downward.
Pulp from a crushed bulb, mixed with sugar, is used to poison flies, hence the species name, from the Latin muscae (flies) and toxicum (poison). Bunchflower (Melanthium virginicum) has a somewhat similar white flower; its three petals and three sepals have narrow, stalk-like bases with two dark glands on each; there are several spikes in a cluster.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Herb Leaf Complexity: Simple Size Notes:
Usually 1 to 2 feet high, occasionally up to 5 feet. Flower:
Flowers in 2 to 6 inch flower clusters
Bright orange Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Green
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun
Bloom Notes: A sticky substance coats the blooms, causing them to glisten.
AL , AR , DE , FL , GA , KY , LA , MD , MO , MS , NC , NJ , NY , OK , PA , SC , TN , VA , WV Native Distribution:
PA to WV & MO, s. to FL, MS & OK Native Habitat:
Mesic woods; seep areas; low pinelands; savannahs; meadows; sandhills USDA Native Status: L48(N)
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium , High
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Moist, acid soil, rich or poor.
Conditions Comments: Does best with at least 1 or 2 hours of direct sun. Tolerates seasonal flooding.
Good for low, white color in partial shade in the eastern US. Use Other:
Crushed bulbs mixed with sugar can be used as a fly poison. Warning:
This plant contains a very toxic alkaloid, and the entire
plant is poisonous, especially the bulb,
to humans and livestock if ingested. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a personís age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plantís different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil. Conspicuous Flowers:
PropagationPropagation Material: Root Division , Seeds
Description: Fly poison can be propagated by division and with difficulty from seed. Plant seed as soon as ripe or in the spring.
Seed Collection: Store seed at room temperature.
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Record Modified: 2009-02-02
Research By: TWC Staff