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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Look, but don't eat!

Another lily from our walk in Marin County yesterday.  Although it can be found not too far away from Bodega Head, Death Camas, also known as Fremont's Star Lily (Toxicoscordion fremontii, formerly Zigadenus fremontii), hasn't been recorded on Bodega Head that I know of.

Death Camas grows in a variety of habitats grassland, chaparral, and mixed evergreen forest — from Oregon to Baja California.  It flowers from February to June.

The name refers to the potential effects of the highly toxic alkaloids found throughout the plant, but especially concentrated in the bulbs.  Serious symptoms result from ingestion: hypotension (low blood pressure), bradycardia (reduced heart rate), gastrointestinal distress (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain), central nervous system depression, and even death (from Medical Toxicology of Natural Substances by Donald Barceloux, 2008).

Here's a closer view of a few plants and one of the 6-parted flowers:

It would be hard to tell from its appearance alone that this flower could be so deadly.

1 comment:

David A. Hofmann said...

Hi Jackie,
I looked up Zigadenus fremontii var. minor in my Marin Flora by Howell, Almeda, Follette, and Best 2007. Ths is variety that occurs on Pt. Reyes and windswept maritime hills on the east side of Tomales Bay.
David A. Hofmann