Monday, July 15, 2013

Pine Barren Death Camas

What a gruesome name for such a pretty little flower.

The latin species name, Zigadenus leimanthoides, seems much less threatening. Then again, I don't speak latin. So for all I know it might be even worse.

While the flowers are small, the plant is a tall one. Which made it difficult to photograph, as the slightest breeze sent it swaying back an forth.

But I managed to get a few good shots.

All parts of the plant are poisonous. And the friend who showed me the plant was reluctant to even touch the plant, using a stick to hold the plant in place as she attempted some photos.

I didn't risk touching it.

When I returned home I looked up the plant in my field guides. It wasn't mentioned. Even Clements and Gracie's excellent Wildflowers in the Field and Forrest had only a brief mention and no photo (and it's a photo field guide). And my technical manuals had little info on the toxicity. So it was off to the web ...

It seems that the really nasty effects come from eating it. Especially the tubers. While a healthy adult would need to consume four or more tubers to be in serious jeopardy, eating even one would have unpleasant results.

The plant is endangered here in New Jersey, and this is the first time I've seen it. And the spot is not advertised, as collectors have been known to dig such things up.

It is pretty though.

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