...Notes from the Field

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Mountain Death Camas – Beautiful and Deadly

by | Oct 31, 2017

Following up on yesterday’s post in the Halloween theme, today’s post of another “spooky” bit of wildlife and nature – the mountain death camas. Over the summer I found myself in the Rocky Mountains looking for native orchids at around 8000-9000 feet, just below the alpine, treeless elevation and found myself in a botanical hotspot. So many species of wildflowers were blooming in absolute profusion, taking advantage of the short summer in order to release their pollen and propagate the next generation of their Rocky Mountain beauty. In one particular patch next to a small creek fed my melting snow, I found a species of death camas that I hadn’t seen before.

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Mountain Death Camas

Mountain Death Camas

The mountain death camas spends much of the year underground as an onion-like corm, until the spring when it emerges as a beautiful, multi-flowered stalk. It is distinguishable from other death camas from the greenish-yellow markings on the petals, and as the name suggests, it is very poisonous to humans and livestock. This one was found growing in the Rocky Mountains, just east of Aspen, Colorado on a chilly subalpine June morning at about 9000 feet.

https://leightonphotography.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/Melanthiaceae-Trillium-and-Death-Camas-Family/G0000sl8Ovwa7xNY/I0000guUkr5QfVy8/C0000ZNETjLf5pBw

Mountain Death Camas

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NORTH AMERICAN WILDFLOWERS GALLERY

                                                                                          

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