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NPIN: Native Plant Database

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Amianthium muscitoxicum (Fly poison)
Vick, Albert F. W.

Amianthium muscitoxicum

Amianthium muscitoxicum (Walter) A. Gray

Fly poison, Crow poison

Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Synonym(s): Chrosperma muscitoxicum, Zigadenus muscitoxicus

USDA Symbol: AMMU

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

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 (Veratrum 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 Characteristics

Duration: 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
Fruit: Bright orange
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Green
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun
Bloom Notes: A sticky substance coats the blooms, causing them to glisten.

Distribution

USA: 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

Growing Conditions

Water 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.

Benefit

Use Ornamental: 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: yes

Propagation

Propagation 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.

National Wetland Indicator Status

Region:AGCPAKAWCBEMPGPHIMWNCNEWMVE
Status: FAC FAC FAC FAC
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Bibliography

Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Amianthium muscitoxicum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Amianthium muscitoxicum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Amianthium muscitoxicum

Metadata

Record Modified: 2013-09-09
Research By: TWC Staff

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