South Dakota Native Plant Research
Liliaceae : Zigadenus elegans

Liliaceae : Zigadenus elegans


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Family Name


Common Name

Death camass, White camass, Showy death camass

Native American Name

Lakota: pšíŋ hublóka


Zigadenus elegans is a perennial herb from a deep, truncated, fibrous coated bulb, with stems growing 10-70 cm in height. The simple, alternate leaves are linear, 10-35 cm long and 2-10 mm wide, with roughened margins. The basal leaves are folded and the cauline leaves flat. The inflorescence is a raceme (rarely a panicle) with few to numerous flowers. The 6 greenish white tepals are oval to obovate, 6-8 mm long with a 2-lobed dark green gland toward the base. The 6 stamens arise from the base of the partially inferior ovary. The fruit is a capsule 15-20 mm long. Death camass blooms from June into August in the plains, prairies and open conifer forests in counties along the eastern and western edges of South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Death camass is a beautiful flower, but all parts of it are toxic. It should not be grown where children or animals have access to it. Its bulb can be mistaken for wild onions, or the edible common camass, and its consumption can be fatal.

Horticulture Notes

Seed collection: Collect the capsules in late summer when they turn brown. Allow capsules to dry and split inside a paper bag before removing seeds.

Germination: Fall sowing or a 60-day cold treatment before spring planting.

Vegetative propagation: Mature plants will produce secondary bulbs that can be divided after the plant go dormant.

Light: Full sun to partial shade.

Soil: Best in lighter, sandy soils.

Water: Moist to wet.

Liliaceae : Zigadenus elegans