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Plant Profile: Death Camus (Toxicoscordion venenosus aka Zigadenus venenosus)

Also known as black snakeroot, this herbaceous perennial bulb a member of the Melanthiaceae family that also includes trillium and false hellebores. It is native to western North America from southern British Columbia to California, and east to Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Nebraska and the Dakotas where it grows in a variety of habitats including meadows, sagebrush slopes and montane forests. Growing 1-2’ tall, the plant has a .5-1.5” wide bulb that looks like an onion but lacks its odor, smooth grass-like basal leaves, and six-petaled creamy white flowers that appear in dense pointed terminal racemes 2-8″ long from spring until mid-summer. The three-parted capsules that follow are held on elongated stalks. All parts of the plant are poisonous to both livestock and humans.

Type: Herbaceous perennial bulb

Bloom: Six-petaled creamy white flowers in dense pointed terminal racemes 2-8″ long from spring until mid-summer.

Size: 1-2’ H

Light: Full sun

Soil: Average, dry to moist, well-drained

Hardiness: Zones 4-8

Care: Divide when necessary

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Seed, division of bulb off sets

Companion Plants: Glacier lily, lupines, sticky purple geranium

Photo Credit: Matt Lavin, Wikimedia Commons