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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Monocots
Ordo: Liliales

Familia: Melanthiaceae
Tribus: Melanthieae

Genus: Zigadenus
Species: Z. glaberrimus

Zigadenus Michx., 1803.

Typus: Z. glaberrimus

Gomphostylis Raf., Fl. Tellur. 3: 30. 1837, nom. illeg. non Wall. ex Lindl.(1830).


Farr, E. R. & Zijlstra, G. eds. (1996-) Index Nominum Genericorum (Plantarum). 2009 Dec 23 [1].
Govaerts, R. et al. 2020. Zigadenus in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2020 May 16. Reference page.
Michaux, A 1803. Fl. Bor.-Amer. 1: 213.

Vernacular names
English: deathcamas

Zigadenus is a genus of flowering plants now containing only one species, Zigadenus glaberrimus, the sandbog death camas, found in the southeastern United States from Mississippi to Virginia.[1][2][3] Around 20 species were formerly included in the genus, but have now been moved to other genera.


Zigadenus glaberrimus generally grows to a height of 60–120 cm (2–4 ft). A total of 30–70 flowers are borne in panicles. Each white to cream colored flower is bell-shaped, 20–30 mm (0.8–1.2 in) across. The tepals of the flower remain attached to the fruit capsule when it forms. The cone shaped seed capsules are 10–15 mm (0.4–0.6 in) long by 4–7 mm (0.2–0.3 in) across.[4]

Zigadenus glaberrimus flowers from mid July to September. It is found growing in pine bogs, savannas and sandy pinelands in the US states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.[4]

The genus is a member of the family Melanthiaceae, tribe Melanthieae. Molecular phylogenetic studies in the 21st century have resulted in number of changes to placements within this tribe.[5] (See also Phylogeny of Melanthieae.)
Species formerly placed in Zigadenus

Around twenty species were included in the genus as it was previously circumscribed. Zigadenus glaberrimus, sandbog deathcamas, is the only species remaining in the genus. Species which have been transferred to other genera are listed below.[5]

Amianthium muscitotoxum – flypoison
Anticlea elegans – elegant camas, alkali grass, mountain deathcamas
Anticlea hintoniorum
Anticlea mogollonensis – Mogollon deathcamas
Anticlea neglecta
Anticlea sibirica
Anticlea vaginata – sheathed deathcamas
Anticlea virescens – green deathcamas
Anticlea volcanica – lava deathcamas
Stenanthium densum – Osceola's plume, black snakeroot, crow poison
Stenanthium gramineum – featherbells
Stenanthium leimanthoides – pinebarren deathcamas
Toxicoscordion brevibracteatum – desert deathcamas
Toxicoscordion exaltatum – giant deathcamas
Toxicoscordion fontanum – smallflower deathcamas
Toxicoscordion fremontii – Fremont's deathcamas, star zigadene – (several varieties)
Toxicoscordion nuttallii – Nuttall's deathcamas
Toxicoscordion paniculatum – foothill deathcamas, sand-corn
Toxicoscordion venenosum – deathcamas, meadow deathcamas – (several varieties)
Toxicoscordion micranthum – smallflower deathcamas


Like all the species previously included in this genus, all parts of Z. glaberrimus are toxic, due to the presence of alkaloids such as zygacine. Grazing animals, such as sheep and cattle, may be affected and this or related species have caused human fatalities.[2]

Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
Fayla C. Schwartz (2003). "Zigadenus glaberrimus Michaux, Fl. Bor.-Amer. 1: 214, plate 22. 1803". In FNA Editorial Committee (ed.). Magnoliophyta: Liliidae: Liliales and Orchidales. Flora of North America. 26. Oxford University Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-19-515208-1.
Biota of North America Program 2013 county distribution map
Fayla C. Schwartz (2003). "Zigadenus Michaux, Fl. Bor.-Amer. 1: 213, plate 22. 1803". In FNA Editorial Committee (ed.). Magnoliophyta: Liliidae: Liliales and Orchidales. Flora of North America. 26. Oxford University Press. pp. 81–88. ISBN 978-0-19-515208-1.
Zomlefer, W. B.; W. S. Judd (2002). "Resurrection of segregates of the polyphyletic genus Zigadenus s.l. (Liliales: Melanthiaceae) and resulting new combinations". Novon. 12 (2): 299–308. doi:10.2307/3392971. JSTOR 3392971.

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