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Melanthiaceae: Bunchflower Family Plant Identification Characteristics.

Melanthiaceae
Plants of the Bunchflower Family

Formerly included within the Lily family.

      Most plants in the Bunchflower family have bunches of little white or greenish, lily-like flowers with 3 sepals and 3 petals that are identical in size and color, plus 6 stamens, and a 3-parted pistil. In most species the pistil has 3 styles which have not completely fused together as they have in the Lily family. The ovary is positioned superior or nearly so, and consists of 3 united carpels with the partition walls present, forming an equal number of chambers. It matures as a capsule with 2 or more seeds per chamber. Note that Trillium typically has a single, large flower that does not fit the bunch flower pattern, but is apparently related anyway.

      The Bunchflowers were formerly included within the Lily family. Worldwide, the Bunchflower family includes about 25 genera and 140 species. It is important to learn this family right away because many of them, particularly death camas, are quite poisonous. Unfortunately, taxonomic reshuffling has greatly confused what is and is not a death camas.

Key Words: Bunches of Lily-like flowers with incompletely fused pistils.

Please e-mail Thomas J. Elpel to report mistakes or to inquire about purchasing high resolution photos of these plants.


Zigadenus venenosus. Death camas.

Zigadenus venenosus. Death camas. Pony, Montana.

Zigadenus sp. Death Camas.

Zigadenus sp. Death Camas. Coleville, Washington.

Zigadenus elegans. Mountain Death camas.

Zigadenus elegans. Mountain Death camas.

Zigadenus elegans. Mountain Death camas.

Zigadenus elegans. Mountain Death Camas. Bridger Mountains. Near Bozeman, Montana.

Xerophyllum tenax. Beargrass.

Xerophyllum tenax. Beargrass. Yellowstone National Park.

Xerophyllum tenax. Beargrass.

Xerophyllum tenax. Beargrass. Yellowstone National Park.

Veratrum viride. Green False Hellebore.

Veratrum viride. Green False Hellebore.

Veratrum viride. Green False Hellebore.

Veratrum viride. Green False Hellebore.

Trillium ovatum. Western White Trillium.

Trillium ovatum. Western White Trillium.

Trillium ovatum. Western White Trillium.

Trillium ovatum. Western White Trillium.

There are more
Bunchflower Family pictures
at PlantSystematics.org.


Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
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Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills.
Participating
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Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat.
Foraging the
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Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
Botany
in a Day
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