Plant Common Name
Colicroot, Unicorn Root, White Colicroot
This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.
A white flower spike that looks like a unicorn's horn jutting up from the ground is a highlight of the white colicroot. This herbaceous perennial is native to the eastern United States and Ontario, Canada. It grows in moist peaty, gravelly or sandy habitats around the southern Great Lakes or from eastern Texas up to New England on the eastern side of the Appalachians. It naturally grows in pinelands, bogs, ditches and wet grasslands. Up until the 19th century, roots of colicroot plants were dug up and used as medicine to treat colic.
The leaves arise from the ground to create a rosette of linear, very grass-like yellow-green leaves. Depending on climate, flowering occurs from late spring to late summer. A thin, upright flowering stem (called a scape) juts up from the rosette center. In the upper third of the scape, tiny white, tubular to urn-shaped flowers open from the bottom up in the spike. Each blossom looks mealy and there are six tiny lobes. In fact, the genus name Aletris comes from the Greek word, which means "miller of corn."
Although not usually grown in contrived gardens, conserve a stand of white colicroot on your property. The plants prosper in moist to wet sandy or loamy soils that are rich in organic matter and non-alkaline in pH. Use this wildflower as a vertical companion to pitcher plants or Venus flytraps in a bog garden. Or, grow it as a fleeting wildflower in a wet meadow.
AHS Heat Zone
9 - 3
USDA Hardiness Zone
4 - 8
Partial Sun, Partial Shade
18"-42" / 45.7cm - 106.7cm
6"-12" / 15.2cm - 30.5cm
Late Spring, Early Summer
Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, North-Central United States, Central United States, South-Central United States, Texas, Canada
Bog Garden, Wildflower
Sharp or Has Thorns