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ALETRIS obovata

Image of Aletris obovata

Family

Liliaceae

Botanical Name

ALETRIS obovata

Plant Common Name

Colicroot, Southern Colicroot

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

A rather diminutive rosette of bright green leaves is overlooked until the southern colicroot produces a tall flower stem by late spring. This herbaceous perennial is native to the American Southeast, from southernmost Mississippi to northern Florida's and southern Georgia's Atlantic coast. It naturally grows in moist pinelands, damp grasslands and roadside ditches. Up until the 19th century, roots of these plants were dug up and used as medicine to treat colic.

The leaves arise from the ground to create a basal rosette of attractive light to medium green leaves. Leaf blades are blunt-end lances with parallel veins, revealing its common bond to members of the lily family. Flowering occurs from mid-spring to perhaps midsummer at the very latest. A thin, upright flowering stem (called a scape) juts up from the rosette center. In the upper third of the scape, tiny tubular white flowers open from the bottom up in the spike. The blossoms may be edged in orange or orange-pink. 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." Insects pollinate the flowers, leading to small gray-silver fruits with seeds inside.

Although not usually grown in contrived gardens, conserve a stand of southern colicroot on your property. The plants prosper in moist to wet sandy soils that have some organic matter and are acidic in pH. Use this wildflower as a vertical companion to pitcher plants or Venus flytraps in a bog garden.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    10 - 6

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    7 - 9

  • Plant Type

    Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    8"-16" / 20.3cm - 40.6cm

  • Width

    4"-8" / 10.2cm - 20.3cm

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    United States, Southeastern United States, Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Wet Site

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water, Ample Water

  • Habit

    Rosette/Stemless

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Orange

  • Flower Color Modifier

    Bicolor

  • Fruit Color

    Light Blue, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Light Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Bog Garden, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes