Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Crow poison by prickly pear

with 9 comments

Click for greater clarity.

It’s not clear why Nothoscordum bivalve is commonly called crow poison, but if you happen to be a crow you’d probably best steer clear of this diminutive but common wildflower. It’s a member of the same botanical family as garlic and onions but lacks their pungent odor, so people also call it false garlic. As you can see, this one had sprung up adjacent to a prickly pear that was one of three types of cactus I found growing together on March 2. It reminds us of Dolly Parton’s adage that “wildflowers don’t care where they grow,” even if you or I would be pointedly unhappy in that spot.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 14, 2012 at 5:45 AM

9 Responses

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  1. Calling this plant “crow poison” is interesting. I had always assumed it really was poisonous until someone asked Mr. Smarty Plants (Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center web feature) about it. You can read what I found out about it after doing a little research at: http://www.wildflower.org/expert/show.php?id=6740

    Great photo–as always!


    Nan Hampton

    March 14, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    • Thanks for the link to all that information, Nan. It sounds like there’s a project here for some student of botany or pharmacology; it would be nice to know once and for all whether our crow poison really is poisonous.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 14, 2012 at 1:11 PM

  2. A lovely little plant. Is it also poisonous to other birds? I’m enjoying learning about your native plants. Most are different than ours.

    laveta segura

    March 14, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    • We’re not even sure it’s poisonous to crows. If you follow the link in the previous comment you’ll see the situation, which is ambiguous.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 14, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    • Oh, and I’m glad you’re enjoying the native plants here: as the French say, vive la différence.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 14, 2012 at 1:16 PM

  3. Odd name for such a beautiful flower.


    March 14, 2012 at 10:21 AM

  4. […] 6. If you see a resemblance between an individual flower here and one in the recently featured crow poison—which may or may not actually be poisonous—it’s because both plants are in the lily […]

  5. […] pages have recently shown you two white-flowered members of the lily family, crow poison and death camas. Another local member of the family is wild garlic, Allium drummondii, whose […]

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