ABOUT LISA BERRY
Brown's or Wild Peony
Great Red Paintbrush
Little Elephant's Head
Red Mountain Heather
Sierra Shooting Star
Scientific name: Veratrum californicum
Common name: Corn Lily or False Hellebore
Color: White with greenish centers.
Description: The 4 to 8 feet tall stalk, and many branching arms, are covered with tightly clustered 3/4-inch flowers with green centers.
Habitat: Wet meadows, creek beds, and drying swamps and marshes.
Toxicity/Edibility: The alkaloids in this plant make it extremely toxic to humans, livestock, and even insects. Ingestion has caused birth defects in animals, and losses in honeybee populations.
Medicinal uses: Historically, corn lily was used as a pain reliever and anti-convulsive (for epilepsy). Native Americans concocted an effective a birth control tea from the roots. Today it is used pharmaceutically to slow the heartbeat and lower blood pressure.
Comments: Because the leaves resemble those of corn stalks and edible "skunk cabbage," corn lily has been eaten mistakenly with fatal results--the alkaloids paralyzing the respiratory system. Native Americans used the juice to poison darts for warfare, and the powdered root made an effective insecticide.