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Marcus, Joseph A.
Zigadenus nuttallii (Gray) S. Wats.
Death Camas, Nuttall's deathcamas, Nuttall’s death camas, Poison onion
USDA Symbol: zinu
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
This common prairie flower grows 1–2 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.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Herb Leaf Complexity: Simple Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Feb , Mar , Apr
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. USDA Native Status: L48(N)
Growing ConditionsLight 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.
BenefitConspicuous Flowers: yes
Deer Resistant: High
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
- Austin, TX
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Record Modified: 2007-08-24
Research By: LAL