Herbs perennial, with fibrous roots, equitant or rosulate leaves, and perfect flowers. Perianth regular, 6-parted, scurfy or woolly outside, more or less adherent. Stamens 6, or 3 and opposite the petals, anthers introrse. Ovary 3-celled, 1-styled. Capsule covered with the withered perianth. Seeds with cartilaginous albumen.
Genera 18, species 50, sparingly occurring in N. America, S. Africa, New Holland, etc. The root of Lacnanthes tinctoria abounds in a rod coloring matter. One of the most intense bitters known is Aletris farinosa.
§ Ovary wholly adherent. Stamens 3, exserted. Perianth woolly outside..........
§ Ovary half free. Stamens 6, included. - Corymbod perianths woolly all over.....
- Racemed perianths rugous-scurfy...
1. LACNAN'THES, Elliott. Red-root. (Gr. soft hair, Perianth woolly outside, tube adherent; calyx lobes exterior, of 3 linear sepals, as long as the 3 lance-oblong petals; stamens 3, equaling the petals and opposite to them; filaments and filiform, declined style exserted; capsule 3-celled, truncated, many-seeded. - An herb with red roots, equitant, ensiform lvs., and a dense, woolly corymb.
L. tinctoria Ell Swamps and borders of ponds, R. I. (Olney) to Fla. An interesting plant, with rush-like lvs. St. erect, strict, 18 to 24' high, clothed with white wool above. Lvs. mostly radical, fleshy, 3 to 4" wide and nearly as high as the stem. Cauline lvs. remote and bract-like. Corymb terminal, compactly many-flowered. Fls. densely clothed with white wool outside, glabrous and yellow within. Anthers bright yellow, at length revolute. Jl., Aug. (Dilatris, Pursh.) - The root is said to bo employed in dyeing.
2. LOPHI'OLA, Ker. Crest-flower. (Gr. a crest; alluding to the crested petals.) Perianth half superior, 6-cleft, persistent, woolly outside and inside; petals narrower than the sepals, somewhat interior; stamens 6, filaments naked, anthers erect; style conical, 3-partible; stigma simple; capsule opening at the summit, 3-celled, 3-valved, many-seeded. - An herb with a creeping root, flexuous stem, woolly above, and a loose cormyb, densely clothed with soft, white wool.
L. Americana. Sandy swamps, pine barrens, N. J. St 1 to 2f high, erect, hoary-tomentous when young. Lvs. glaucous, narrowly linear, equitant, glabrous, the lower and radical long, cauline 2 or 3, shorter. Corymb finally much expanded, many flowered. Corolla woolly and yellow within, segments reflexed, about as long as the stamens. Capsule ovate, dissepiments arising from the center of each valve. Seeds white. Jl., Aug. (L. aurea Ker. Conostylis, Ph.)
3. ALE'TRIS, L. Star-grass. Colic-root. (Gr. a miller's wife; because of the mealy-looking flowers.) Perianth 6-cleft, tubular, rugous as if scurfy or mealy, persistent; stamens issuing at the top of the tube, style 3-sided, 3-partible; ovary adherent at base only; capsule opening at top, many-seeded. - Smooth herbs, very bitter, lvs. radical, rosulate, and scape many-flowered.
1 A. farinosa L. Lvs. broad-lanceolate; fls. white, oblong-tubular, pediceled; perianth in fruit rugous or mealy in appearance. - Grows in low grounds, in most of the States. Root premorse. Scape 20 - 30' high, with remote scales or bracts, and surrounded at base with a circle of lanceolate, sessile leaves. These are 3 - 4 long, 1/4 as wide, and lie flat upon the ground. Flowers in a long, thin raceme. Perianth white, 1/3' long, on very short pedicels, rugous without, when old. Medicinal. July.
2 A. airea Walt. Lvs. lanceolate; fls. yellow, subsessile; perianth short, tubular-campanulate, finally rugous and very scabrous. - In the pine barrens of N. J. to Fla, abundant. Scarcely different from the preceding except in color. Scape 2 - 3f high, with rather distant yellow flowers in the spicate raceme. Lvs. all radical, 2 to 3' by 3 - 4". Jl., Aug.