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Chamaelirium luteum

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Plant types and subtypes: Perennials

Light Requirements: part-shade, shade

Water Use: medium

Soil Moisture: moist

Soil Description: acid, rich, loam

Height: 2'-4'

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

Flower of Chamaelirium luteum (blazing star).
  • Flower of Chamaelirium luteum (blazing star).
  • Flower of Chamaelirium luteum (blazing star).
  • Flower of Chamaelirium luteum (blazing star).
  • Flower of Chamaelirium luteum (blazing star).

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Description

Chamaelirium luteum

Also known as:

fairywand

,

devil's bit

,

fairy wand

,

false unicorn

,

false unicorn root

Scientific Synonyms:

Chamaelirium obovale, Veratrum luteum

Description

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.

Cultivation

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

Propagation

Can be propagated from seed, but germination rates are unreliable. It is easier to propagate by root cuttings or division.

Additional Notes

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

Native Range:
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

Classification

Kingdom Plantae Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta Flowering plants
Class Liliopsida Monocotyledons
Subclass Liliidae
Order Liliales
Family Liliaceae Lily family
Genus Chamaelirium chamaelirium
Species Chamaelirium luteum fairywand