Plant types and subtypes: Perennials
Light Requirements: part-shade, shade
Water Use: medium
Soil Moisture: moist
Soil Description: acid, rich, loam
Bloom Time: May, June
Bloom Color: white
Leaf Color: green
Hardiness Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Additional Tags: attracts bees, clumping, medicinal, ornamental foliage, shade garden plant, woodland plant
Pricing & Availability
Chamaelirium luteumAlso known as:
false unicorn root
Chamaelirium obovale, Veratrum luteum
Chamaelirium luteum Is a spectacular shade plant, rarely seen in cultivation. The large, dark green basal foliage is attractive in and of itself, but the 3 to 4' tall flowering stems steal the show. This species is dioecious, meaning that male and female flowers are on separate plants; however they are both equally attractive, and can be difficult to tell apart even when scrutinized with a magnifying glass. Typically, the flowering spike on male plants is shorter, with racemes (flowering plumes) that tend to arch downward, while female plants are somewhat shorter, and with erect racemes.
A woodland native, blazing star grows best under filtered light but will tolerate full shade. It prefers acidic, moist but well-drained soil rich in organic material. It performs particularly well around conifers, where few other species can adapt to the thick loam they provide. It can also be used effectively on the margins of a shade garden. In areas with heavy leaf litter, the basal rosettes should be cleared late winter to early spring. The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous, producing clumps up to 4' across over time and under ideal circumstances. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer. Zones 4-9
Can be propagated from seed, but germination rates are unreliable. It is easier to propagate by root cuttings or division.
Chamaelirium luteum has long been sought after for its medicinal properties. Plants can take 4 to 8 years to reach harvesting maturity, and both poaching and loss of habitat have led to a steep decline in wild populations.
Native Range & Classification
Recorded County Distribution: USDA data
AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MS, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, VA, WV
USDA Endangered Status:
- Endangered: CT, IN, MA
- Threatened: NY