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Veratrum californicum Durand

Corn lily, California corn lily

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassLiliopsidaMonocots (plants with a single seed leaf); includes the lily family
SubclassLiliidaeIncludes lilies, orchids, and many others
OrderLilialesIncludes lilies, tulips, trilliums, greenbriars, and others
FamilyMelanthiaceaeTrillium family
GenusVeratrumLatin for “dark roots”; also the ancient name of Hellebore
SpeciescalifornicumOf or from California

About plant names...

California corn lily is native to mountain meadows in southwestern North America and the Rocky Mountains.

Identification: This plant’s leaves resemble those of corn (or corn husks), leading to the unfortunate name “wild corn” as well as corn lily—unfortunate because this plant is poisonous to people and animals. Leaves are up to 15" (38 cm) long and 7" (17 cm) wide, strongly veined; plants reach six feet in height. Flowers have six petals, and are green, with white tips and yellow stamens.

Veratrum californicum (corn lily, California corn lily)

Corn lily flowers. Photo by Russ Kleinman, Bill Norris, Kelly Kindscher & Danielle Walkup, in association with the Western New Mexico University Department of Natural Sciences and the Dale A. Zimmerman Herbarium.

Edibility: Poisonous Skull & Crossbones All parts of the plant are poisonous, and roots are 5-10 times worse than other parts. Highly toxic alkaloids effect the heart and nervous system. Poisoning causes birth defects in sheep. Poisoning symptoms include excessive salivation or frothing; irregular gait; vomiting; fast, irregular heartbeat; show, shallow breathing; coma; convulsions.

Online References:

Veratrum californicum on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service

Veratrum californicum on CalPhotos

Veratrum californicum on Vascular Plants of the Gila Wilderness

Veratrum californicum on Wikipedia

Veratrum californicum on Wildflowers, Ferns & Trees of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah

Veratrum californicum at Yosemite National Park

Veratrum californicum at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Veratrum californicum from the Jepson Manual


Veratrum californicum description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Veratrum californicum (corn lily, California corn lily)

3/30/2010 · Near Ouray, Colorado · By Constance B. Kent


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