Veratrum on the Wiki

Jane McGary
Tue, 06 Sep 2011 17:23:27 PDT
Tom wrote,

>Ellen: I think we can bend the rules and admit Veratrum under the 
>'bulb' umbrella!

I would definitely say so. I have a lot of Veratrum californicum at 
my old garden and have dug offsets from time to time for people, or 
to bring here. I don't know if the very large storage organ is 
technically a rhizome, or caudex, or what, but it is very bulblike 
and is the best way of propagating Veratrum quickly during its 
dormant period in late summer. I grew these plants from direct-down 
seed gathered just down the road -- it's very common in ditches and 
other places that are moist in spring. It may never be a popular 
garden plant, however much people who don't know it admrie it in 
spring, because it disappears here by the end of July and one loses 
the "architectural" foliage.

By the way, whatever you call the underground part, it gets very 
large and is a beast to dig!

Regarding the medicinal qualities of Veratrum, Alaska Natives used 
it, I believe only topically, while well aware of its toxicity. It 
was said that one had to leave a small gift in the hole after digging 
the root in order to propitiate the plant's spirit.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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