Aletris farinosa L.

white colic-root

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

White colic-root is an attractive native wildflower of open, often sandy sites. The perianths of the flowers have an unusual rough texture, giving rise to the specific epithet farinosa, meaning "mealy." Native Americans used it to treat stomach and bowel disorders, as well as rheumatism, jaundice and lung disease. However, the fresh root is mildly poisonous.

Habitat

Grassland, meadows and fields, sandplains and barrens, woodlands

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
Leaf arrangement
basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
Leaf blade shape
  • the leaf blade is lanceolate (lance-shaped; widest below the middle and tapering at both ends)
  • the leaf blade is linear (very narrow with more or less parallel sides)
Leaf blade length
40–200 mm
Flower petal color
white
Flower petal length
8–10 mm
Petal fusion
the perianth parts are fused to form a tube, cup, or bell shape
Inflorescence type
the inflorescence is a raceme (a long unbranched stem with stalked flowers growing along it)
Ovary position
  • the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
  • the ovary is below the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
Fruit type (specific)
the fruit is a capsule (splits along two or more seams, apical teeth or pores when dry, to release two or more seeds)
Fruit length
6–8 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Clonal plantlets
    Axillary bulblets
    there are no bulblets being produced in axils
  • Flowers
    Anther attachment
    the anther is attached by its base to the filament
    Bulblets replace flowers
    there are no bulblets where the flowers are located
    Carpels fused
    the carpels are fused (the number of carpels equals the number of locules)
    Filament surface
    the filament surface has rough hairs or scales on it
    Flower bracts
    there are bracts associated with the flower
    Flower orientation
    the flowers point upward or spread or curve outward
    Flower petal color
    white
    Flower petal length
    8–10 mm
    Flower shape
    the flower has a tube-shaped corolla
    Flower symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
    Form of style
    the style is lobed at the tip, and unbranched
    Fringed petal edges
    the petals are not fringed
    Hairs on flower stalk
    the flower stalk has no hairs on it
    Inflorescence hair glands
    the axis of the inflorescence has no hairs on it
    Inflorescence length
    60–350 mm
    Inflorescence type
    the inflorescence is a raceme (a long unbranched stem with stalked flowers growing along it)
    Length of flower stalk
    0.5–3 mm
    Length of peduncle
    400–1000 mm
    Marks on petals
    there are no noticeable marks on the petals
    Nectar spur
    the flower has no nectar spurs
    Number of carpels
    3
    Number of pistils
    1
    Number of sepals and/or petals
    there are six petals, sepals or tepals in the flower
    Number of styles
    1
    Ovary position
    • the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    • the ovary is below the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes only one cycle of petals or sepals
    Petal appearance
    the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal base
    the petal narrows gradually or does not narrow at the base
    Petal fusion
    the perianth parts are fused to form a tube, cup, or bell shape
    Sepal appearance
    the sepals resemble petals in color and texture
    Sepal orientation
    the sepals are slightly curved outwards from the plant
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are fused to each other (often along with the petals in monocots), at least near their bases
    Spathe
    the plant does not have a spathe
    Spathe form
    NA
    Spathe length
    0 mm
    Stamen number
    6
    Stamen position relative to petals
    the stamens are lined up with the petals
    Stamen types
    the stamens within a cycle are all similar
    Stamens fused outwards
    the stamens are fused to the petals or tepals at or near their bases
    Style petal-like
    the style is not broad and flattened like a petal
    Tepals
    the petals and sepals are similar in size and color
  • Fruits or seeds
    Berry color
    NA
    Fruit compartments
    there are three locules in the fruit
    Fruit length
    6–8 mm
    Fruit stalk orientation
    the fruits point upward or spread or curve outward
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is a capsule (splits along two or more seams, apical teeth or pores when dry, to release two or more seeds)
    Other markings on berry
    NA
  • Glands or sap
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
  • Growth form
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Root septa
    the roots do not have transverse septa
    Underground organs
    • the plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
    • there are only slender roots on the plant
  • Leaves
    Hairs on underside of leaf blade
    the underside of the leaf is not hairy, or has very few hairs
    Hairs on upper side of leaf blade
    the upper side of the leaf is not hairy, or has very few hairs
    Leaf arrangement
    basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
    Leaf blade basal lobes
    the leaf blades do not have basal lobes
    Leaf blade base
    the leaf blade clasps the stem at the base, or the leaf blade goes all the way around the stem, so that the stem appears to pierce the leaf blade
    Leaf blade bloom
    the underside of the leaf blade has no noticeable waxy or powdery bloom
    Leaf blade cross-section
    the leaf blade is more or less flat in cross-section
    Leaf blade faces
    both surfaces of the leaf blade are exposed
    Leaf blade form
    Fully-formed (i.e., expanded), +/- green leaf blades are found somewhere on the plant
    Leaf blade length
    40–200 mm
    Leaf blade orientation
    the upper surface of the leaf blade faces the stem of the plant
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is lanceolate (lance-shaped; widest below the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is linear (very narrow with more or less parallel sides)
    Leaf blade surface colors
    the upper side of the leaf blade is relatively uniform in color
    Leaf blade tip
    the tip of the leaf blade is acuminate (tapers to a long, thin point)
    Leaf blade veins
    the lateral veins are parallel or slightly arched in the direction of the tip
    Leaf blade width
    5–26 mm
    Leaf stalk length
    0 mm
    Leaf type
    the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets
    Leaflet number
    0
    Stipules
    there are no stipules on this plant
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    Specific habitat
    • grasslands
    • meadows or fields
    • sandplains or barrens
    • woodlands
  • Scent
    Plant odor
    the leaves have no particular smell
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Flowering stem growth form
    the flowering stem is held upright
    Flowering stem leaves
    there are no true leaves on the flowering stem
    Stem hairs
    the stem is nearly or completely hairless

Wetland Status

Occurs in wetlands or non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FAC)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
absent

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Maine
extirpated (S-rank: SX), potentially extirpated (code: PE)
Massachusetts
fairly widespread (S-rank: S4)
New Hampshire
historical (S-rank: SH), endangered (code: E)
Rhode Island
rare (S-rank: S2), concern (code: C)

Native to North America?

Yes

Family

Nartheciaceae

Genus

Aletris

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Aletris farinosa L. N

white colic-root. CT, MA, ME, NH, RI. Open, usually sandy, soils of fields, forest openings, 
and woodlands.