A. Gray

Ann. Lyceum Nat. Hist. New York 4: 121. 1837.

Common names: Fly-poison crow-poison St. Elmo’s-feather staggergrass
Etymology: merged Greek amiantos, unsoiled, and anthos, flower, alluding to the glandless tepals
Basionym: Chrosperma Rafinesque 1825
Treatment appears in FNA Volume 26. Treatment on page 89. Mentioned on page 55, 56, 82, 90.
FNA26 Plate 008.jpegZigadenus elegans
Stenanthium gramineum
Amianthium muscitoxicum
Yevonn Wilson-Ramsey
Yevonn Wilson-Ramsey
Barbara Alongi

Herbs, perennial, from bulbs; bulbs tunicate, ovoid-oblong, ca. 5 × 2.5 cm; roots contractile. Stems erect, simple. Leaves mostly basal, reduced distally, spiral, arching downward, sheathing proximally; blade linear-elongate, strap-shaped, glabrous, apex obtuse to abruptly acute. Inflorescences terminal, racemose, dense, bracteate, glabrous. Flowers bisexual or both bisexual and unisexual flowers borne on the same or on different plants, cupshaped to widely spreading, pedicellate; tepals persistent, 6, distinct, white, turning reddish green, claws absent, oblong-obovate, equal to subequal, apex acute; tepal glands absent; stamens 6, perigynous, distinct; filaments subulate, apex acute; anthers basifixed, 1-locular, cordate-ovate, extrorse, opening into peltate disc (apical/valvate dehiscence); pollen-sacs apically confluent; ovary superior to partly inferior, 3-locular, diverging; septal nectaries absent; styles persistent, 3, widely diverging, distinct; stigmas terminal, minute. Fruits capsular, deeply 3-lobed, thin-walled, dehiscence septicidal, then adaxially loculicidal. Seeds 1–2 per locule, brownish to purplish black, wingless, ellipsoid, lustrous; testa fleshy. x = 8.


e North America


Species 1.

Amianthium is frequently included in a broadly circumscribed Zigadenus (J. D. Ambrose 1975, 1980; S. M. Kupchan et al. 1961; S. J. Preece 1956; W. B. Zomlefer 1997b). The absence of tepal nectaries or glands is a major generic characteristic of this Appalachian–Ozark taxon (F. H. Utech 1986). Narrow-leaved specimens of Amianthium are often confused with Zigadenus densus.

A self-incompatible, pollination-breeding system involving primarily beetles occurs in Amianthium (M. E. Palmer et al. 1989; A. M. Redmon et al. 1989; J. Travis 1984). An associated tepal color shift, as in Zigadenus densus, may represent possible pollinator signals (J. Travis 1984).

Two unique, toxic alkaloids, jervine and amianthine, found in Amianthium roots and leaves (N. Neuss 1953; S. M. Kupchan et al. 1961; R. F. Raffauf 1970; I. W. Southon and J. Buckingham 1989; G. E. Burrows and R. J. Tyrl 2001), caused deaths in cattle and sheep. Native Cherokee used the plant as a dermatological cure for itch and as a crow poison (D. E. Moerman 1986). Root extracts mixed with molasses or honey have been used as a housefly insecticide (C. D. Marsh et al. 1918).

Selected References


"broad" is not a number."thicker" is not a number.

... more about "Amianthium"
cordate-ovate +
reddish green +
acute +, oblong-obovate +, obtuse +  and abruptly acute +
subequal +
Frederick H. Utech +
A. Gray +
whorled +, opposite +  and alternate +
dilated +
Chrosperma +
reticulate-veined +  and parallel-veined +
strap--shaped +  and linear-elongate +
sheathing +  and involucrate +
1;several +
2.5 cm25 mm <br />0.025 m <br /> (?) +
Fly-poison +, crow-poison +, St. Elmo’s-feather +  and staggergrass +
e North America +
merged Greek amiantos, unsoiled, and anthos, flower, alluding to the glandless tepals +
unisexual +, bisexual +  and both +
cup-shaped +
thin-walled +  and capsular +
loculicidal +  and septicidal +
3-lobed +
membranaceous +  and leathery +
persistent +
downward +  and arching +
reduced +
superior +  and partly inferior +
many;several +
zygomorphic +  and actinomorphic +
Ann. Lyceum Nat. Hist. New York +
contractile +
wind-distributed +
brownish +  and purplish black +
1 +  and 2 +
ellipsoid +
perigynous +
1 +  and several +
persistent +
distinct +
Amianthium +
Liliaceae +
persistent +
distinct +
sepaloid +  and petaloid +
narrower +
caulescent +  and scapose +
3 +  and 2 +