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Chamaelirium luteum (L.) A. Gray.

Figure 38.—Chamaelirium (Chamaelirium luteum)
Other common names.—Helonias, unicorn root, false unicorn root, blazing-star drooping starwort, starwort, devil's-bit, unicorn's-horn. This plant is frequently confused with Aletris farinosa L., not because it bears much resemblance to the latter but probably on account of a similarity in some of the common names by which they are sometimes designated. In the drug trade it is perhaps best known as Helonias, but the use of that name is likely to lead to confusion because the plant has no relation to the genus Helonias.

Habitat and range.—This native plant is found in open woods from Massachusetts to Michigan and south to Florida and Arkansas.

Description.—Chamaelirium is an erect, fleshy herb. The male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. The male plants grow to a height of 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 feet, while the female plant is sometimes 4 feet tall and is more leafy. The leaves which are from 2 to 8 inches long, are spoon shaped, being wider at the top than at the base. The white starry flowers are produced from June to July. The flowers of the male plant are borne on plumelike spikes from 3 to 9 inches long and those of the female plant in erect spikes. The rootstock is from one-half to 2 inches in length and usually curved upward at one end in the form of a horn. The rootlets penetrate to the center of the rootstock. This and its disagreeable bitter taste distinguish it from Aletris root.

Part used.—The rootstock. collected in autumn.

Sievers, A.F. 1930. The Herb Hunters Guide. Misc. Publ. No. 77. USDA, Washington DC.