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Aletris farinosa (White colicroot)
Smith, R.W.

Aletris farinosa

Aletris farinosa L.

White Colicroot, Colic Root, Unicorn Root

Liliaceae (Lily Family)


USDA Symbol: ALFA2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Low, yellow-green, grass-like leaves subtend colic rootís leafless flowering stalks which rise 2-3 1/2 ft. At the top of a sturdy, round stem is a spike-like cluster of small, white, urn-shaped flowers.

Until the 19th century the roots were collected and used medicinally to treat colic. In the South, Blunt-leaved Colic-root (A. obovata) has globose white flowers. Yellow Colic-root (A. aurea) has globose yellow flowers 1/4 of an inch (6 mm) wide. Flowers of this group resemble Ladiesí-Tresses (Spiranthes), members of the Orchid Family.


From the Image Gallery

10 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Flower scape up to about 40 inches tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , WI , WV
Canada: ON
Native Distribution: C. MA, s. Ont. & WI, s. to FL & TX
Native Habitat: Moist peaty, sandy or gravelly areas

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Moist to dry, sandy soil.
Conditions Comments: Aletris lutea, with yellow flowers, occurs in similar habitats and blooms from June to July.


Conspicuous Flowers: yes


Description: Propagate by seed.
Commercially Avail: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
Natural Biodiversity - Johnstown, PA

Web Reference

Webref 57 - Atlas of Florida Plants (2020) Institute for Systematic Botany
Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Aletris farinosa in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Aletris farinosa in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Aletris farinosa


Record Modified: 2022-11-04
Research By: TWC Staff

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