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Nuttall's Death-camas

© Jim Mason


Common Name: Nuttall's Death-camas

Scientific Name: Toxicoscordion nuttallii

Family: Lily

Longevity: Perennial

Height: 1 - 2 feet

Bloom Period:
May and June


© David Welfelt


Description: Leaves arise from bulbs. Basal leaves are long, folded lengthwise, ½ inch wide and form a clump. Flower stalks, topped with greenish-white flower clusters, are erect from the center of the leaves.

Comments: All parts of the plant are poisonous to people and livestock. Plants and underground bulbs resemble wild onions but without the onion odor. Human poisonings have occurred from mistaking Nuttall’s Death-camas for onions. Moth larvae of the Eupithecia genus feed exclusively on death-camas. They sequester the toxins for their own protection. Most animals avoid the plants. In May, after a spring pasture burn, few prairie plants are ungrazed, but one of them is death-camas. Nuttall’s Death-camas is found on open prairies and rocky hillsides in the eastern one-third of Kansas.