Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for White Death-camas - Anticlea glauca   Kunth
Members of Melanthiaceae:
Only member of Anticlea in NC.
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Section 5 » Family Melanthiaceae
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DistributionRestricted to a small area of the central Mountains, mainly close to the Blue Ridge Escarpment -- in western McDowell, Buncombe, and Yancey counties. As this is a Northern species, it is to be looked for farther northward in the Mountains, though suitable habitat may be lacking there.

This species occurs from N.B. to ND, and then south to western NC, TN, and MO. It is scarce over most of its range, except in ND and MN, and many Eastern states have only a few county records.
AbundanceExtremely rare, having declined in recent years. Currently known from just a single site in northwestern McDowell County. Though it is listed as just Significantly Rare in the state, it really needs to be considered for State Endangered status.
HabitatThe species has a very selective habitat in the state -- restricted to calcareous (dolomite) cliffs and outcrops. Though other high pH cliffs are more widespread in the Mountains, these others are composed of amphibolite, olivine, or other dark rocks.
See also Habitat Account for Montane Calcareous Barrens and Woodlands
PhenologyBlooms in July and August, and fruits in September and October.
IdentificationThis "lily" has a basal clump of leaves like many other species, these being very narrow and reaching about 1-1.5 feet long, often arching. The flowering scape is 1.5-2 feet tall, and -- unlike many other lilies -- has a quite open and sparsely flowered panicled inflorescence; but to make up for the fewer flowers, each is quite large. The 6 cream-colored tepals are greenish on the back, and each flower is nearly 1 inch across. The inner tepals are clawed (abrupt taper towards the base) and there is a rounded green gland on each tepal, well above the base. As this species occurs in NC only around a limestone site, it likely will not be confused with another very rare white- or cream-colored lily restricted to rocky sites -- Stenanthium leimanthoides. That species has much more densely-packed and smaller flowers, often several such clusters on a single plant. It also grows on acidic rock types, such as granite. Though Anticlea glauca can be seen by the public from an accessible place in NC, because there is just a single extant population known in the state, it is best not to identify that locale to avoid any poaching or trampling issues.
Taxonomic CommentsIn RAB (1968), the species was named as Zigadenus glaucus. That species has since been moved to the genus Anticlea, but there are taxonomic issues with this species. Some references consider this taxon as a good species, others just the eastern taxon of the much broader A. elegans (i.e., A. elegans var. glauca). Weakley (2018) treats the taxon as a valid species.

Other Common Name(s)Mountain Death-camas, White Camas, Star-lily
State RankS1
Global RankG5
State StatusSR-P
US Status
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