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

Aletris Farinosa Herb

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

Aletris Herb Uses

Aletris Herb Summary

  • Used as a herbal remedy for "female complaints".
  • Moderate Toxicity
  • Rare Plant, Cultivation is difficult. Do not wildcraft!

Aletris has a history of use as an herbal remedy for female complaints. As an anodyne, It is said to tone the uterus, calm the stomach, and may have narcotic properties. Avoid use in pregnancy and when breastfeeding. No known interactions or contraindications exist, but Aletris 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, grass like 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 from the wild.

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 herbal 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 karen@altnature.com

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

Sources

Books

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

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

PDR of Herbal Medicine

The Herb Book by John Lust Covers almost 500 herbs, 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 - Drugs.com
Includes information from a medical standpoint, uses, contraindications, chemical constituents.

THE HERB HUNTERS GUIDE AMERICAN MEDICINAL PLANTS OF COMMERCIAL IMPORTANCE
By A.F. SIEVERS, Senior Biochemist, Office of Drug and Related Plants, Bureau of Plant Industry

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Owner, Editor: Karen Bergeron
Email karen@altnature.com