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Dale W. McNeal, except as noted

Perennial herb, from rhizome or bulb, or rhizomes ending in weakly developed bulbs, scapose or not. Leaf: alternate, whorled, or mostly basal and spirally arranged, deciduous after 1 year or not. Inflorescence: raceme, panicle, or flowers 1. Flower: perianth parts 6, in 2 petal-like whorls or of sepals and petals, free or fused below, ± spreading; stamens 6, from perianth, anthers attached at base or near middle; ovary superior or partly inferior, chambers 3, styles 3, persistent. Fruit: capsule, loculicidal or septicidal.
10 genera, 130 species: northern hemisphere. W North America Zigadenus moved to Toxicoscordion. —Scientific Editors: Dale W. McNeal, Thomas J. Rosatti.

Key to Melanthiaceae

Plant coarse, leafy; rhizome thick. Stem: erect, 1–2 m, simple, hollow. Leaf: many, alternate, lanceolate to widely ovate, clasping, generally acute at tip, coarse-veined, reduced upward. Inflorescence: panicle; flowers many. Flower: bisexual or staminate; perianth parts 6, free, spreading, petal-like, white or ± green to red-brown, nectary glands 1–2 near base; stamens 6, attached to perianth; ovary ± inferior, chambers 3, styles 3, short, stigmas long. Fruit: capsule, septicidal.
± 25 species: northern temperate. (Latin: dark roots) Alkaloids used medicinally and TOXIC to both livestock and humans.

Key to Veratrum

V. californicum Durand var. californicum
Leaf: ovate; lower 20–40 cm, tomentose-ciliate, abaxially curly-hairy, adaxially glabrous or veins sparsely short-hairy. Inflorescence: generally 30–60 cm, dense, tomentose; branches crowded, spreading to ascending; pedicels 1–6 mm. Flower: 10–15 mm; perianth parts elliptic to obovate, white or ± green, glabrous to sparsely woolly below, entire to finely dentate, glands 1–2, Y-shaped, green; stamens 1/2–2/3 perianth; ovary glabrous. Fruit: 2–3 cm, narrowly ovoid. Seed: 10–12 mm, ± winged.
n=16. Streambanks, moist meadows, forest edges; < 3500 m. Northwestern California, High Cascade Range, High Sierra Nevada, Transverse Ranges, Peninsular Ranges, Modoc Plateau, East of Sierra Nevada (Sweetwater Mtns); to Washington, Montana, Colorado, Mexico. [Veratrum californicum var. caudatum (A. Heller) C.L. Hitchc.] Jul–Aug [Online Interchange]

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Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2013. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Dec 1 2015
Citation for this treatment: [Author of taxon treatment] 2013. Veratrum, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Dec 1 2015

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click for enlargement Veratrum californicum var. californicum
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Charles Webber 1999 California Academy of Sciences

Geographic subdivisions indicated for the distribution of Veratrum californicum var. californicum Markers link to CCH specimen records. If the markers are obscured, reload the page [or change window size and reload]. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.