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Foothill Death Camas, Foothills Deathcamas, Panicled Death Camas, Sand-corn - Toxicoscordion paniculatum


Family: Melanthiaceae - False-Hellebore Family Genus Common Name: Death Camas Native Status: NativeMonocot Perennial Herb
Toxicoscordion paniculatum - Foothill Death Camas, Foothills Deathcamas, Panicled Death Camas, Sand-corn. Synonym: Zigadenus paniculatus - a name still used by some authorities. In addition to reclassification out of the Zigadenus genus, it has recently been moved out of Liliaceae and into the Melanthiaceae family. Only a single U.S. plant remains in the Zigadenus genus (Z. glaberrimus - Sandbog Death Camas.) Interestingly, Trillium has also been moved out of Liliaceae and into the Melanthiaceae. I would not have guessed the close relationship between Trillium and other Melanthiaceae species. Toxicoscordion paniculatum is a plant of the western United States, found in dry sagebrush scrub and conifer forests at moderately high elevations - from about 3,000 feet up to 7,000 feet. Due to the rarity of the plant in Arizona, collecting the plant is restricted in that state.

Similar species: Toxicoscordion venenosum, which is a somewhat smaller species, and the inflorescence is a raceme rather than a panicle, although there might be a single branch at the bottom of the inflorescence. My photos of this plant, however, show several branches, indicating a panicle, although the upper half of the inflorescence is racemose. T. venenosum prefers moister soil than does T. paniculatum.

Found in:
AZ, CA, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY

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Toxicoscordion paniculatum

Distribution of Toxicoscordion paniculatum in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 22 Oct 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Boise Foothills, Ada County, ID Date: 2011-June-17Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The species epithet paniculatus indicates that the inflorescence is a panicle - there are stems off of the main stem of the inflorescence, and these substems have multiple pediceled flowers on them. In the case of this plant (and all the Toxicoscordion paniculatus that I noted) the upper part of the inflorescence has single flowers on the side stems - a raceme. I guess a panicle is a raceme of racemes...

Other species in this family go by the name of Fly Poison, but it appears that this plant is not poisonous to flies.
Toxicoscordion paniculatum

Site: Boise Foothills, Ada County, ID Date: 2012-May-21Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The creamy-white or yellowish blossom of Foothill Death Camas has 6 petal-like lobes and 6 stamens.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Toxicoscordion paniculatum

Site: Boise Foothills, Ada County, ID Date: 2012-May-21Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The glabrous Toxicoscordion paniculatum scape is usually taller than the basal leaves, which are linear, generally 4 or more times longer than they are wide.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Toxicoscordion paniculatum

Site: Boise Foothills, Ada County, ID Date: 2011-June-17Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Toxicoscordion species - all 8 of them - grow from a poisonous bulb. The bulb is similar in shape to the edible bulb of the true Camas - genus Camassia - which has made many people make the unfortunate mistake to eat the wrong bulb. This was a staple of native Americans, who knew to dig the bulb while the flower was still on the plant to avoid that mistake.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Toxicoscordion paniculatum

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer