Unicorn Root (Aletris farinosa)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Unicorn Root
Aletris farinosa
Liliaceae

None known

  • Medicinal Use

    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[4]. It also promotes the appetite and is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, rheumatism and jaundice[222].

    The root is bitter, diuretic, narcotic and tonic[1, 21, 46, 213]. Only use the dried rootstock[21], in large doses the fresh root is somewhat narcotic, emetic and cathartic[4]. A decoction of the root is a bitter tonic and has been used for expelling flatulence and for various uterine disorders[207, 222]. It is used in the treatment of colic, though small doses, especially of the fresh root[4], can cause hypogastric colic[222]. The root is harvested in late summer after flowering and dried for later use[238].

    The root contains diosgenin, which has both anti-inflammatory and oestrogenic properties[222].

    A tea of the leaves has been used in the treatment of colic, stomach disorders, dysentery and bloody dysentery[213, 257].

  • Edible Use

    Bulb – cooked[105, 161, 177]. Intensely bitter[2]. A bitter-sweet soapy taste[238].

  • Cautionary Notes

    The fresh root is mildly poisonous[21].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – we have no details for this species but suggest sowing the seed in a greenhouse in early spring. Sow the seed thinly to allow the seedlings to be grown on for their first year without potting them up, but give a liquid feed from time to time to ensure that they do not become nutrient deficient. Prick the young plants out into individual pots the following spring and grow them on in the greenhouse for the next winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. Division in spring.
Prefers a damp sunny position in peat, leafmold and sand[1]. Requires a sunny position[200]. Plants are hardy to between -10 and -15¡c[200].
South-eastern N. America – Southern Maine to Florida, west to Texas and Wisconsin.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.