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Medicinal and Useful Plants of North America, with herbal uses and scientific names. Learn to identify, and use wild medicinal herb plants that grow all around us. History, Foklore, Growing Information.

Aletris Farinosa Herb

Colic Root, Aletris farinosa, herb, white flower spike picture
Aletris is an uncommon
wildflower with
grass like leeaves.

  Other Names:
Star grass, Colic root, True Unicorn Root, Ague Root

Aletris Herb Uses and Medicinal Properties

Aletris Herb Summary

  • Used as a medicinal herb for "female complaints".
  • Moderate Toxicity
  • Rare Plant, Cultivation is difficult. Do not wildcraft!
  • Aletris is used for female complaints. it tones the uterus, anodyne, calms stomach, may have narcotic properties. Avoid use in pregnancy and when breastfeeding. No known interactions or contraindications, but may have estrogenic properties and should be avoided when estrogen is contra-indicated.

    Chemical Constituents include- Alkaloids, Diosgenin, Saponin

    Aletris Farinosa Habitat and Description

    Aletris Farinosa is a slow growing perennial in the Lily family. Also known as True Unicorn Root, it grows wild in bottom land, moist soil; and full sun to part shade, such as the edges of wooded areas in Eastern United States. Aletris first presents as a starburst of basal leaves, sending up spikes that boast small white flowers from April to July. This native herb is no longer common due to habitat destruction; and should not be harvested in the wild for medicinal use.

    How to Grow Aletris Farinosa

    Aletris can be grown from root divisions and in my opinion is a good candidate for plant rescue. Serious attempts at cultivation are needed if this plant is to be sustainable for medicinal use. It is slow growing and little cultivation information is available.

    Colic root, Aletris farinosa growing in field, white flower spike, white grass like leaves

    It is reported to take two years in a greenhouse from seed, one grower said it died as soon as he transplanted it to the outdoors. Frankly that is the only person I found who reported anything about growing this plant. That does not mean it cannot be propagated. If you have information on sources of cultivated Aletris Farinosa root cuttings, please email

    Seed Germination Database - Perennials  
    "Sow at 20C (68F), germinates in less than two weeks".

    Click here for Aletris Seed

    Possibly unsustainable due to habitat destruction.
    Dilemmas of Traditional Botanical Research HerbalGram and the Botanical Medicine Academy

    Aletris Farinosa History and Folklore

    Keeps evil at bay when sprinkled around home or worn as sachet.
    Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs

    The scientific name is from the Greek word Aletris "a female slave who grinds corn" and farinosa "mealy". Wildflowers of Tennessee, the Ohio Vallery and Southern Appalachians - Dennis Horn



    Wildflowers of Tennessee, the Ohio Vallery and Southern Appalachians - Dennis Horn

    Indian Herbology of North America - Alma Hutchens Out of Print, used copies on

    PDR of Herbal Medicine

    The Herb Book by John Lust Covers almost 500 medicinal plants, including many native species, as well as recipes for many herbal concoctions. A wealth of information in an inexpensive paperback edition.

    Web sites used for Research
    Visit them for more information about Aletris Farinosa

    Henriette’s Herbal - Aletris
    The "First Lady of Herbs on the Internet" has tons of herbal information and photos on her web site.

    Aletris -
    Includes information from a medical standpoint, uses, contraindications, chemical constituents.

    By A.F. SIEVERS, Senior Biochemist, Office of Drug and Related Plants, Bureau of Plant Industry

    Next : Angelica

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