Mountain Death-camas

Common Name(s): Mountain Death-camas, Elegant Death-camas
Scientific Name: Zigadenus elegans
Size (height) English & Metric: 6-28" (15-70cm)
Habitat: Prefers moisture and high elevations, or moist hanging gardens at low elevations
Flowering Season (for Bryce region): June - August
Range: Alaska to New Mexico and east onto the Great Plains
Mountain Deathcamas, with insert showing flower in detail
Mountain Death-camas


General Description:
This plant is poisonous, although a very attractive member of the lily family. The flowers are small, consisting of 6 white to creamy petal-like segments arranged in a star shape. The flowers are also noted for having two very small green dots at each "petal's" base. Very long and narrow grayish to green leaves grow almost entirely from the lower part of the plant and may have purple edges at the base. The main stems vary in color from grayish purple to grayish green.

Plant Lore:
Hungry early settlers sometimes mistakenly thought the bulbs of this species were those of wild onions or Sego Lilies and would then eat them with deadly results. This plant is also deadly to cattle and especially sheep.

When and where to see at Bryce:
This lethal plant can be seen in the spring along the Mossy Cave Trail just past the waterfall. Look up on the banks of Tropic Ditch.

Further Reading:
Buchanan, Hayle 1992. Wildflowers of Southwestern Utah. Bryce Canyon Natural History Association. Bryce Canyon, Utah.

Spellenberg, Richard. 2001. National Audubon Society's Field Guide to North American Wildflowers - Western Region. Knopf Inc. NY, NY.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

P.O Box 640201
Bryce, UT 84764


(435) 834-5322
Phones are answered and messages returned as soon as possible as staffing allows.

Contact Us