Zigadenus elegans is a perennial herb in the lily family (Liliaceae) with long, parallel-veined gray-green linear leaves and 6-parted white or pale yellow flowers. This species occurs in well-drained, open situations in the hills and mountains of Denali, extending into the boreal zone along river corridors and bluffs. Zigadenus elegans occurs in woodlands, meadows and rocky tundra on floodplains and south-exposed, dry slopes. Plants grow 10-60 cm tall from a fleshy bulb. Leaves (1-3) are all basal, narrow, and linear in shape with parallel venation and a keeled mid-rib. Leaves are 10-30 cm long, glaucous colored with entire margins. Stems are also glaucous. The inflorescence is a terminal raceme of 10-40 flowers, branched or unbranched. Flowers have 6 white to yellow-green tepals each with a green gland at the base. Flowers are bisexual, with 6 stamens and a 3-styled pistil. The fruit is a 3-parted capsule. There are no other species in Denali with grass-like leaves and many six-parted pale flowers.
In Denali, Zigadenus elegans is one of the first forbs to emerge in the spring appearing on sunny south facing rocky slopes in late April or early May. Flower appear around early to mid-June.
Z. elegans is monoecious and insect pollinated. Seeds have no special dispersal adaptations and are likely gravity disseminated.
Zigadenus elegans occurs only in North America, ranging from Alaska eastward to western Northwest Territory and south through British Columbia/Alberta into the Rocky Mountain U.S. states and Mexico. This species also occurs in the Great Lake states and sporadically down the Appalachian Mountains on the eastern seaboard. In Alaska, the species is widespread in suitable well-drained habitat, except is absent from the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta, Alaska peninsula/Aleutians, and the southeast panhandle. In Denali Zigadenus elegans occurs in the mountains on both sides of the Alaska Range, extending into boreal areas along river corridors and bluffs.
Z. elegans is found in the park growing at elevations from 213 m to 1540 m with an average elevation of 953 m. This species is more commonly found on south-facing slopes. Slope angles for site where this species is found ranged from 0 (flat) to 47 with an average angle of 16 degrees.