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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


Dale W. McNeal & Wendy B. Zomlefer

Stem: ± scapose. Leaf: ± basal, reduced upward, linear, generally folded, ± curved, entire, deciduous after 1 year. Inflorescence: raceme or panicle; flower bracts 1 (or reportedly 2). Flower: staminate, sterile, or generally bisexual; perianth parts 6, petal-like, free or ± fused to ovary base, white to ± yellow [or not], adaxially with [0]1[2] glands near base; stamens 6, free to ± attached to perianth; ovary superior, chambers 3, styles 3. Fruit: capsule, septicidal. Seed: many.
± 8 species: central United States, western North America. (Greek: poison garlic, for poisonous bulb) All taxa highly TOXIC (generally unpalatable) to livestock, humans from alkaloids (especially in bulbs). As treated in TJM (1993), Zigadenus polyphyletic, so California members transferred to Toxicoscordion (Zomlefer & Judd 2002 Novon 12:299–308).

Key to Toxicoscordion

T. fremontii (Torr.) Rydb.
Bulb 20–35 mm diam, ± spheric; outer coat black. Stem: 40–90 cm, glabrous. Leaf: 20–50 cm, 8–30 mm wide, curved, scabrous-ciliate. Inflorescence: panicle or raceme, 5–40 cm, open; bracts 5–50 mm, green; pedicels spreading in fruit, 10–50 mm. Flower: bisexual; perianth parts 5–15 mm, widely ovate, obtuse, outer very short-clawed, inner clawed 2–3 mm, gland distal margin evident, dentate; stamens ± 1/2 perianth; styles erect to ± spreading. Fruit: 10–35 mm, cylindric.
n=11. Grassy or wooded slopes, outcrops; < 1000 m. Northwestern California, c Sierra Nevada Foothills (just w of Chinese Camp, Tuolumne Co.), Sacramento Valley, Central Western California, Southwestern California; Oregon, northern Baja California. [Zigadenus fremontii (Torr.) S. Watson; Zigadenus fremontii var. inezianus Jeps.; Zigadenus fremontii var. minor (Hook. & Arn.) Jeps.; Zigadenus fremontii var. salsus Jeps.] Feb–Jun [Online Interchange]

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Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2013. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Nov 24 2015
Citation for this treatment: [Author of taxon treatment] 2013. Toxicoscordion, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Nov 24 2015

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click for enlargement Toxicoscordion fremontii
See CalPhotos for additional images
2008 Neal Kramer

Geographic subdivisions indicated for the distribution of Toxicoscordion fremontii 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.