Crow Poison
Zigadenus densus Syn: Stenanthium densus
Liliaceae (Lily) Family
Melanthiaceae (Bunchflower) Sub-family

   
                                                              Ian Vickory, Brewton AL

Crow Poison is also known as Black Snakeroot, Osceola's Plume and Pine Barren Death Camas.

Plant is an upright, smooth perennial from a bulb. Similar in many ways to the flat woods Fly Poison, Amianthium muscaetoxicum. Its preferred habitat is swamps, savannas, bogs, and moist pinelands. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region.

The leaves are linear and as much as 24 inches long, grass-like and mostly basal. The blade tips are sharply pointed. Stem leaves are much reduced toward the tip.

The flowers are small, clustered, and stalked, arranged at the tip of the flowering stem. Each flower is white in color, purplish with age. The white flowers resemble those of Amianthium and likewise are poisonous. They are borne in thick racemes that on close examination resemble plumes. There are two small glands at the base of the perianth that will correctly distinguish the plant from those of similar posture, i.e., Fly Poison and Death Camass. Flowers occur in the spring.

Fruit is a capsule.

This plant contains a poisonous alkaloid that can kill livestock. Pulp from the crushed rhizome is pasted on the feathers of chickens as a way to discourage owls and hawks from entering the hen house.

The related Z. glaberrimus is a coarser plant that grows from a clumped, creeping rhizome.

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