True Unicorn

Other names: Lucerne?

Scientific name: Aletris farinosa

Family: Liliaceae

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Root

Collection: Harvested at the end of summer

Annual/Perennial: perennial

Height: upto 3 feet

Actions: Emmenagogue, Anti-spasmodic

Known Constituents: Contains diosgenin, which has both anti-inflammatory and estrogenic properties, vitamin E 

Constituents Explained:


Even though the name is similar to False Unicron, which is associated with being a female herb, this herb has slightly different properties.  

Traditional Use:

It has been used as a substitute when false unicron wasn’t obtainable in the past, but it is more commonly used for sluggish digestion, colic, and to stimulate appetite, particularly for anorexia.

Used as a herb for the nervous system.  Has been used to help prevent miscarriage. 

Clinical Studies:


                    True Unicorn

Latin name:        Aletris farinose

Family:                N.O. Haemodoraceae

Other names:

Colic-root, star grass, starwort, Star-root, Blazing Star, Ague-root, Aloe root. Ague Grass, Black-root and Bitter Grass.

The true Unicorn is native to North America. Found at edges of swampy or wet sandy woods, from Florida northward, specially on seashore.

It is a low-growing, spreading perennial herb, with tuberous cylindrical, somewhat it contains horizontal root, having many fibers from its lower surface. There is no stem and leaves are lanceolate, acute, ribbed, sessile, or slightly sheathing at base, smooth and flat, pale colored, thin and coriaceous. Flower-stem is simple with remote scales, almost 1 to 3 feet high, and is topped with a spiked raceme of short-stalked, white, bell-shaped oblong flowers which blooms May to August; the outer surface of these has a mealy frosted appearance. Its fruit is an ovate, tapering, coriaceous capsule, enclosed in a persistent envelope. Seeds are numerous, ovate, ribbed, albuminous, fleshy, and oily.

The fresh root in large doses is somewhat narcotic, emetic and cathartic; when dried, these properties are lost. In smaller doses it gives colic in hypogastrium, and a sense of stupefaction and vertigo. When dried it becomes a valuable bitter tonic and its tincture or decoction has been used in flatulence, colic, hysteria, and to tone up the stomach; of value in dyspepsia and where there is an absence of urinary phosphates. Its most valuable property is its tonic influence on the female generative organs, proving of great use in cases of habitual miscarriage and as a general tonic.

Herb Name: True Unicorn

Others names: Unicorn Root, Aletris, Blazing Star, Colic Root, Colic Weed, and Crow Corn

Latin name: Aletris farinosa

Family: Liliaceae

Common part used: Root, Rhizomes

Description: True Unicorn is an herb with spikes of white flowers. It belongs to the lily family. 

Properties: True Unicorn is an herb that is used in herbal medicine to treat gynecologic conditions, diarrhea, rheumatism, jaundice, uterine disorders, stomach disorders, and dysentery. Its properties include: anti-inflammatory, bitter, narcotic, diuretic, and tonic.

Contents: True unicorn contains steroidal saponins (diosgenin, gentrogenin), alkaloids, resin, essential oil, and starch. 

Internal use: This herb has estrogen-like properties. It has a potent tonic effect on the generative organs (female), and is useful for treating various gynecologic conditions and uterine disorders, including amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, and habitual miscarriages. The root has an anti-inflammatory effect. It helps in treating diarrhea, colic, poor appetite, flatulence, and various stomach disorders. It also helps to treat rheumatism, jaundice, and dysentery. 

External use: A poultice made of the leaves can be used to treat tender or sore breasts. The leaves can be useful in treating sore backs and rheumatism. 

Essential oil and aromatherapy use: Not noted.

Safety precautions: In large doses, it is mildly poisonous, somewhat narcotic, and emetic. It may cause hypo-gastric colic in some people. It has a CNS depressant effect, and may cause loss of balance or stupor. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using this herb. Avoid confusing true unicorn with false unicorn (Chamaelirium luteum or Helonias luteum).