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Zigadenus nuttallii (Nuttall's death camas)
Marcus, Joseph A.

Zigadenus nuttallii

Zigadenus nuttallii (A. Gray) S. Watson

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

Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Synonym(s): Toxicoscordion nuttallii


USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

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.


From the Image Gallery

26 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 2-1/2 feet tall.

Bloom Information

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


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

From the National Organizations Directory

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

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX


Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller
Bibref 328 - Wildflowers of Texas (2003) Ajilvsgi, Geyata.
Bibref 286 - Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country (1989) Enquist, M.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2023-04-12
Research By: LAL

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