E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Zigadenus venenosus S. Watson
meadow death-camas (grass-leaved death-camas)
(Previously in Liliaceae)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Gary Ansell  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #12940)

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Distribution of Zigadenus venenosus
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Species Information

Perennial herb from a deep, scaly, egg-shaped bulb 3-5 cm long; flowering stems 20-70 cm tall, smooth.
Basal leaves several, linear and grass-like, 10-40 cm long, 2-6 (10) mm wide, smooth, keeled, finely rough-margined; stem leaves 2 to 4, reduced upward becoming bract-like.
Inflorescence a fairly compact to elongate, terminal cluster of several to many, stalked flowers, the stalks 0.5-3 cm long, ascending to erect; flowers creamy-white, bell- to saucer-shaped, of 6 distinct tepals, the tepals narrowly egg-shaped, 4-5 mm long, the inner 3 slightly longer than the outer 3, each with a yellowish-green, somewhat indistinct gland near the base just above the claw; stamens 6; pistil 1, 3-chambered.
Capsules, oblong-elliptic, 3-lobed, 0.8-1.5 cm long; seeds numerous, brown, 5-6 mm long.
Two varieties occur in BC:

1. Upper stem leaves with papery sheaths; 3 outer tepals unstalked or short-clawed, only the inner 3 long-clawed............ var. gramineus (Rydb.) Walsh ex M.E. Peck

1. Upper stem leaves without sheaths; all 6 tepals equally clawed........... var. venenosus

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Dry to mesic grassy or rocky slopes, meadows, forest edges and open forests in the lowland to subalpine zones; common in S BC south of 52degreeN (var. venenosus - predominantly along the coast, var. gramineus - more common in the interior); var. gramineus - E to SW SK and S to NE, NM, UT, ID and OR; var. venenosus - E to AB and S to UT, NV, CA and N Baja CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-intolerant, submontane to subalpine, Western North American herb distributed equally in the Pacific and Cordilleran regions. Occurs on very dry to moderately dry, nutrient-medium soils within temperate, cool semiarid, and mesothermal climates; its occurrence decreases with increasing elevation and precipitation and increases with temperature. Common in grassy communities on very shallow, often melanized soils on rock outcrops. Characteristic of moisture-deficient sites.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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General References