Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
Vascular Plants of California
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Veratrum californicum var. californicum

Higher Taxonomy
Family: MelanthiaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: 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.
Genera In Family: 10 genera, 130 species: northern hemisphere. Note: W North America Zigadenus moved to Toxicoscordion.
eFlora Treatment Author: Dale W. McNeal, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Dale W. McNeal, Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: VeratrumView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: 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.
Species In Genus: +- 25 species: northern temperate. Etymology: (Latin: dark roots) Toxicity: Alkaloids used medicinally and TOXIC to both livestock and humans.
Veratrum 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. Chromosomes: n=16.
Ecology: Streambanks, moist meadows, forest edges; Elevation: < 3500 m. Bioregional Distribution: NW, CaRH, SNH, TR, PR, MP, SNE (Sweetwater Mtns); Distribution Outside California: to Washington, Montana, Colorado, Mexico. Flowering Time: Jul--Aug
Synonyms: Veratrum californicum var. caudatum (A. Heller) C.L. Hitchc.
Jepson eFlora Author: Dale W. McNeal
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

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Botanical illustration including Veratrum californicum var. californicum

botanical illustration including Veratrum californicum var. californicum


Citation for this treatment: Dale W. McNeal 2012, Veratrum californicum var. californicum, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 21, 2022.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2022, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 21, 2022.

Veratrum californicum var. californicum
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© 2006 Steve Matson
Veratrum californicum var. californicum
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© 2017 Barry Rice
Veratrum californicum var. californicum
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© 2009 Keir Morse
Veratrum californicum var. californicum
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© 2010 Barry Breckling
Veratrum californicum var. californicum
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© 2002 Gary A. Monroe
Veratrum californicum var. californicum
click for enlargement
© 2009 Keir Morse

More photos of Veratrum californicum var. californicum in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Veratrum californicum var. californicum:
NW, CaRH, SNH, TR, PR, MP, SNE (Sweetwater Mtns)
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2. County and Jepson Region polygons can be turned off and on using the check boxes.
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).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).