Plant Common Name
Commonly known as colicroot, species in the genus Aletris are herbaceous flowering perennials that may be placed in Liliaceae (the lily family), Melanthiaceae or more recently Nartheciaceae, depending on which botanist you listen to. It is a small genus of 21 species of monocots native to eastern North America and Asia. Many are adapted to moist or boggy locations. Habit, appearance are similar; they produce basal rosettes of strappy foliage followed by tall, leafless racemes or spikes of tiny, bell-shaped flowers that are typically white or yellowish. These may or may not be showy. Bloom time varies.
There are two major groups of Aletris: A. farinosa and A. lutea of eastern North America and A. glabra of eastern Asia. These largely wetland and woodland species are rarely cultivated but delicately attractive and worthy of hybridization and cultivation.
The basal foliage is not particularly showy, but the inflorescences of tiny, six-petaled/tepaled flowers are appealing. All blooms are bisexual, have nectaries and are pollinated by insects. The fruits are dry, loculicidal capsules.
Hardiness, culture and use are all species specific.
North America, Asia
Bog Garden, Wildflower
Sharp or Has Thorns