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Aletris farinosa L.

Figure 1.—Aletris (Aletris farinosa)
Other common names.—Stargrass, blazing star, mealy starwort, starwort unicorn root, true unicorn root, unicornplant, unicorn's-horn, colicroot, devil's-bit, ague grass, ague root, aloeroot, crow corn, huskwort. Some of the common names are also used in connection with Helonias (Chamaelirium luteum (L.) A. Gray), which causes much confusion, although the two plants do not bear any close resemblance. It is best, therefore, to designate it as Aletris, under which name it is best known in the drug trade.

Habitat and range.—Aletris occurs in dry, generally sandy soil, from Maine to Minnesota, Florida, and Tennessee.

Description.—This plant is an erect slender herb 1 1/2, to 3 foot tall with leaves only at the base. These are grasslike, of a yellowish green color, and from 2 to 6 inches long. They surround the base of the stem in the form of a star, in this respect differing distinctly from starwort (Chamaelirium luteum), with which it is sometimes confused, as stated. The erect, flowering spike produced from May to July bears white urn-shaped flowers sometimes tinged with yellow.

Other species.—Three other species of Aletris, namely, Aletris aurea Walt., A. lutea Small. and A. obovata Nash, bear much resemblance to A. farinosa and are for this reason no doubt frequently collected with the latter.

Part used.—The rootstock, which should be collected in autumn.

Sievers, A.F. 1930. The Herb Hunters Guide. Misc. Publ. No. 77. USDA, Washington DC.
Last update Monday, March 12, 1998 by aw