Herbs & Plants


Botanical Name : Liatris
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Eupatorieae
Genus: Liatris
Gaertn. ex Schreb.
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Common names: Blazing-star, Gay-feather or Button snakeroot

Habitat ; Liatri is native to North America, Mexico, and the Bahamas. These plants are used as a popular summer flowers for bouquets.

Liatris is a  perennial  plant, surviving the winter in the form of corms.

Liatris species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Schinia gloriosa, Schinia sanguinea (both of which feed exclusively on the genus), Schinia tertia and Schinia trifascia.

Liatris is in the tribe Eupatorieae of the aster family. Like other members of this tribe, the flower heads have disc florets and no ray florets. Liatris is in the subtribe Liatrinae along with, for example, Trilisa and Carphephorus. Liatris is closely related to Garberia from Florida, but can be distinguished because the latter is a shrub and has a different karyotype.

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Botanical Source and History.—LIATRIS SPICATA, Willdenow, Button snakeroot. This plant, also known by the names of Gay-feather, Devil’s bit, etc., has a perennial, tuberous root, an erect, annual stem, 2 to 5 feet in height, mostly stout, and very leafy. The leaves are linear, glabrous, alternate, punctate, ciliate at base, lower ones 3 to 5-nerved, and narrowed at base. The flowers are sessile, of a bright-purple color; the heads many, densely crowded in a long, terminal spike, and from 8 to 12-flowered. The scales of the cylindrical, bell-shaped involucre are oblong or oval, and appressed, with slight scarious margins. Achenia pubescent, obconic. Pappus permanent, colored, barbellate, not evidently plumose to the naked eye. Receptacle naked. This plant is found in moist places in the middle and southern states, and in abundance in the prairies (G.—W.).

LIATRIS SQUARROSA, Willdenow, or Blazing-star, has a perennial, tuberous root, with a stem 2 to 3 feet high, thickly beset with long-linear, nerved leaves; the lower ones attenuated at the base. The heads are few, sessile or nearly so, with brilliant purple flowers; the racemes flexuous and leafy; the involucre ovate-cylindric, and the scales of the involucre large, numerous, squarrose-spreading; outer ones larger and leafy, inner ones mucronate-acuminate, and scarcely colored. Pappus plumose. This plant is found in the middle and southern states, in dry soil, and is known in the South by the name of Rattlesnake’s master (G.—W.).

LIATRIS SCARIOSA, Willdenow, or Gay-feather, has a perennial, tuberous root, with a stout, scabrous-pubescent stem, 4 to 5 feet in height, whitish above. The leaves are numerous, lanceolate, tapering at both ends, glabrous, with rough margins, entire, lower ones on long petioles, 3 to 9 inches long, upper ones 1 to 3 inches in length by 1 to 3 lines in width. The heads number from 5 to 20, an inch in diameter, and are disposed in a long raceme, with 20 to 40 purple flowers. The involucre is globose-hemispherical; the scales of the involucre obovate or spatulate, very obtuse, with dry and scarious margins, often colored. Pappus scabrous. This plant is found in dry woods and sandy fields from New England to Wisconsin, and extending southward (G.—W.).

LIATRIS ODORATISSIMA, Willdenow.—This plant, known as Deer’s tongue or Vanilla plant, has radical and stem leaves; the former are obovate-spatulate, tapering below, generally 7-veined, and sometimes slightly obtusely toothed. The stem leaves are oblong and clasping. The leaves are more or less glaucous and fleshy. The flower-heads are arranged in a panicle or corymb, and are from 4 to 10-flowered, the blossoms being of a vivid purple hue. The involucre has but few scales, and these are spatulate-oblong, and imbricated. Pappus not plumose, but finely barbollate. The rhizome of this species is not tuberous. Deer’s tongue is found from Virginia south, and flowers in September and October. The leaves, when dry, have a pleasant odor.
Native American plant used in smoking blends to flavor tobacco. Their perfume is largely due to Coumarin, which can be seen in crystals on the upper side of the smooth, spatulate leaves. -Demulcent, febrifuge, diaphoretic

History and Chemical Composition.—All the above plants are splendid natives, and flowering through August, September, and October. There are several other species of this genus which appear to possess medicinal properties analogous to each other, and which deserve further investigation—e.g., L. cylindracea, L. graminifolia, etc. The roots are the medicinal parts; they are all tuberous, except L. odoratissima, with fibers, and have a hot, somewhat bitter taste, with considerable acrimony, and an agreeable, turpentine odor. They appear to contain a resinous substance, volatile oil, and a bitter principle. Their virtues are extracted by alcohol, and partially by hot water in infusion. The leaves of L. odoratissima are often covered with glistening crystals of coumarin (C9H6O2) (Procter, Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1859, p. 556). On account of this constituent, it is used in North Carolina for keeping moths out of clothes. Deer’s tongue is also of interest as a reputed adulterant of tobacco, it being said to be especially employed in the making of cigarettes, the deleterious effects of which have been attributed, by some, to the coumarin present in them. Liatris spicata was analyzed by W. F. Henry (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1892, p. 603). It contained 0.09 per cent of volatile oil, about 4.5 per cent of resin, 2.3 per cent of a caoutchouc-like body, 16 per cent of inulin, also mucilage, glucose, etc., but no glucosid nor alkaloid.

Medicinal Uses:
These plants are diuretic, with tonic, stimulant, and emmenagogue properties. A decoction of them is very efficient in gonorrhoea, gleet, and nephritic diseases, in doses of from 2 to 4 fluid ounces, 3 or 4 times a day. It is also reputed beneficial in scrofula, dysmenorrhoea, amenorrhoea, after-pains, etc. It is likewise of advantage used as a gargle, in sore throat, and chronic irritation of the throat, with relaxed tissues, and in injection has proved useful in leucorrhoea. It acts kindly on the stomach, and is of some value in dyspepsia associated with renal torpor. While it relieves colic and other spasmodic bowel affections of children, it has some reputation as a remedy for pain and weakness in the lumbar region. Said to be beneficial in Bright’s disease     in connection with Lycopus virginicus and Aletris farinosa; equal parts of each in decoction. These plants are celebrated for their alexipharmic powers in bites of venomous snakes. Pursh states that, when bitten, the inhabitants of the southern states bruise the bulbous roots, and apply them to the wound, at the same time drinking freely of a decoction of them in milk. This requires corroboration. The eliminative action of liatris may be taken advantage of in removing morbific products left in the system after serious forms of illness. The decoction is prepared from an ounce of the root to 1 pint of water. Dose, 1 fluid drachm to 4 fluid ounces.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


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Herbs & Plants Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Aletris Farinosa

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Botanical Name: Aletris Farinosa
Family: Nartheciaceae
Genus: Aletris
Species: A. farinosa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Dioscoreales

Common Names : Blazing star, Star grass, Starwort, False unicorn root.
Other common names.—Star grass, Colic root, True Unicorn Root, Ague Root, blazing star, mealy starwort, starwort unicorn root, true unicorn root, unicornplant, unicorn’s-horn, colicroot, devil’s-bit, ague grass, ague root, aloeroot, crow corn, huskwort. Some of the common names are also used in connection with Helonias (Chamaelirium luteum (L.) A. Gray), which causes much confusion, although the two plants do not bear any close resemblance. It is best, therefore, to designate it as Aletris, under which name it is best known in the drug trade.
Part used.—The rootstock, which should be collected in autumn.

Habitat :Aletris occurs in dry, generally sandy soil, from Maine to Minnesota, Florida, and Tennessee. It grows wild in bottom land, moist soil; and full sun to part shade, such as the edge of wooded areas in Eastern United States.

Description::Aletris Farinosa is a slow growing perennial herb. Aletris first presents as a starburst of basal leaves, sending up spikes that boast small white flowers from April to July. This native herb is no longer common due to habitat destruction; and should not be harvested in the wild for medicinal use. Height: 1-3 feet, Flower size: 1/4 to 1/2 inch long, Flower color: white,Flowering time: May to August.
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Aletris is a small herb. The leaves are all radical and grass-like, from 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide, and from 2 to 4 inches long. They are smooth, entire, acute, and of a firm texture, and have from 6 to 10 parallel and quite prominent veins. The flowering stem is erect, from 2 to 3 feet high, and arises from the center of the cluster of root leaves. It has no stem leaves, but at intervals of about 2 inches, there are very small, linear scales, which may readily escape detection without a close examination. The stems are round and striate near the base, but angular above. The flowers are perfect, and in slender, terminal, simple racemes. They are on short pedicles, with small bracts at the base. The perianth is cylindrical, urn-shaped, white, with a yellowish tinge at the apex; wrinkled, rough and mealy outside, and 6-cleft at the summit. The stamens are 6, small and included. The ovary is ovate, and tapers to a slender style, which is trifid at the apex. The fruit is a dry, many-seeded, acute pod, opening by 3 valves.

How to Grow Aletris Farinosa
Aletris can be grown from root divisions and in my opinion is a good candidate for “plant rescues”. Serious attempts at cultivation are needed if this plant is to be sustainable for medicinal use. It is slow growing and little cultivation information is available.

It is reported to take two years in a greenhouse from seed, one grower said it died as soon as he transplanted it to the outdoors. Frankly that is the only person I found who reported anything about growing this plant. That does not mean it cannot be propagated.

Chemical Constituents: – Alkaloids, Diosgenin, Saponin

Medicinal Properties:

Antiinflammatory; Bitter; Diuretic; Narcotic; Tonic.

The greatest value of unicorn root is its tonic influence on the female generative organs, proving to be of great use in treating cases of habitual miscarriages. It also promotes the appetite and is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, rheumatism and jaundice.

The root is bitter, diuretic, narcotic and tonic. Only use the dried rootstock, in large doses the fresh root is somewhat narcotic, emetic and cathartic. A decoction of the root is a bitter tonic and has been used for expelling flatulence and for various uterine disorders. It is used in the treatment of colic, though small doses, especially of the fresh root, can cause hypogastric colic. The root is harvested in late summer after flowering and dried for later use.

The root contains diosgenin, which has both anti-inflammatory and oestrogenic properties.

A tea of the leaves has been used in the treatment of colic, stomach disorders, dysentery and bloody dysentery
Aletris is used for “Female Complaints”, tones the uterus, anodyne, calms stomach, may have narcotic properties. Avoid use in pregnancy and when breastfeeding. No known interactions or contraindications, but may have estrogenic properties and should be avoided when estrogen is contra-indicated.

Action, Medical Uses and Dosage.—Owing to the confusion which formerly resulted from the substitution of the root of aletris for helonias, erroneous statements have been made regarding the status of the drug in female complaints. The drug must be restudied to determine its true place in therapy. Enough is known, however, to place it among the simple bitter tonics and stomachics, and as such it is employed to promote the appetite and aid digestion, and in flatulence, colic, borborygmi, etc. This root and its preparations are almost entirely employed in dyspeptic conditions; while, in the abnormal conditions of the female reproductive organs, the chamaelirium is used. The dose of specific aletris is from 5 to 20 drops.

Other species.—Three other species of Aletris, namely, Aletris aurea Walt., A. lutea Small. and A. obovata Nash, bear much resemblance to A. farinosa and are for this reason no doubt frequently collected with the latter.

Click to see:-> Homeopathic Remedies

History and Folklore
Keeps evil at bay when sprinkled around home or worn as sachet.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.