If you are seeing a bumper crop of tall, pale-yellow flowered wildflowers in many fields this year, you aren't alone. Death Camas is having a year!
Death Camas is a toxic, weedy perennial. All parts of the plant are poisonous, and although the greatest risk of the weed is to livestock and grazing animals it is also poisonous to humans. As little as half a pound of the plant's leaves consumed can be deadly.
Symptoms of poisoning by death camas include vomiting and excessive salivation, tremors, weakness, loss of control over body movements, convulsions, and coma. Ultimately, an animal that has eaten too much will die.
Tempting as it may be to clip a few stems of this pretty wildflower for a bouquet, do not touch death camas!
According to Gardening Know How, it is possible to mistake death camas for something edible, so be very aware of the characteristics of edible plants before consuming them. Death camas can be mistaken for wild onion, in particular, with its onion-like bulb. However the bulbs of death camas lack the distinctive onion scent.
Here is a video from Rocky Mountain edibles showing the difference between death camas and wild onion.
Click here for an excellent article with more details about death camas.
Image credit: Colorado State University
Thanks to Jeannette Littlejohn for the idea for this post.