Plant Data Sheet


Species Zigadenus venenosus



Deathcamas is distributed in North America from B.C. to Saskatchewan and south to Colorado, Utah, California, and Baja California (FEIS).


Climate, elevation

Death camas grows at low to mid elevations.


Local occurrence (where, how common)

On the coast, it coincides closely with the occurrence of Camasia quamash.


Habitat preferences

Open forests and forest edged, damp meadows, and rocky or grassy slopes.


Plant strategy type/successional stage (stress-tolerator, competitor, weedy/colonizer, seral, late successional)

Death camas is an increaser with grazing.


Associated species

Camasia quamash (camas), dwarf rose (Rosa gymnocarpa) and cinquefoil (Potentilla spp.)


Other common names include:

grassy deathcamas

meadow grasscamas

alkali grass

deadly zygadene

hog potatoes




soap plant

squirrel food


May be collected as:

Seeds ripen in July and August and are dispersed by mid-August. Seeds germinate in the spring and a bulb is formed in the first year. Death camas reproduces vegetatively from bulb fragments and sexually with sexual maturity taking up to 3 years.


Collection restrictions or guidelines

This plant is toxic in all forms and caution must be taken when handling plant material.


Seed germination (needs dormancy breaking?)

Needs six weeks of cool stratification

Seed life (can be stored, short shelf-life, long shelf-life)

2 to 6 months.

Recommended seed storage conditions

Paper bag at room temperature.

Propagation recommendations (plant seeds, vegetative parts, cuttings, etc.)

Seeds and/or bulbs.

Soil or medium requirements (inoculum necessary?)

None recommended.

Installation form (form, potential for successful outcomes, cost)


Recommended planting density

None specified.

Care requirements after installed (water weekly, water once etc.)


Normal rate of growth or spread; lifespan

Death camas grows rapidly in early spring from root reserves when temperatures are cool and soils are moist.


Sources cited

Drake Deanne, Kern Ewing, and Patrick Dunn, 1998. Techniques to Promote Germination of Seed from Puget Sound Prairies. Restoration & Management Notes 16:1 Summer.


Pojar, Jim and Andrew MacKinnon. 1994. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast Washington, Oregon British Columbia & Alaska. BC Ministry of Forests and Lone Pine Publishing, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 527 p.


Data compiled by (student name and date)

Lara Johnson