Amianthium muscitoxicum (fly poison)

Another striking member of the Melanthiaceae family is Amianthium muscitoxicum, commonly known as fly poison. This name comes from the practice of early Americans who would crush the plant’s bulbs with sugar in order to, well, kill flies. Like many plants in this family, A. muscitoxicum contains a variety of toxic alkaloid compounds that provide it protection from a variety of herbivores. I think this might be a good candidate for horticulture in high deer pressure areas, but be sure no parts of the plant can be ingested by people or domestic animals. These plants were found in Mark Twain National Forest in Carter County on May 22, 2021.

Early developing pyramidal racemes of Amianthium muscitoxicum.
Amianthium muscitoxicum raceme that is partially in bloom. As the flowers mature, the flowers and entire raceme will turn green.
A group of Amianthium muscitoxicum in bloom. Note the lily-like leaves and growth habit.

-OZB

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