Amianthium muscitoxicum (Walter) A. Gray
Fly Poison, Crow Poison
Liliaceae (Lily Family)
Synonym(s): Chrosperma muscitoxicum, Zigadenus muscitoxicus
USDA Symbol: AMMU
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.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
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 InformationBloom Color: White , Green
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun
Bloom Notes: A sticky substance coats the blooms, causing them to glisten.
DistributionUSA: 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; savannas; meadows; sandhills
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.
BenefitUse 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
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.
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
BibliographyBibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
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Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Amianthium muscitoxicum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Amianthium muscitoxicum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Amianthium muscitoxicum
MetadataRecord Modified: 2021-03-18
Research By: TWC Staff