This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol1", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Scapose perennial bitter fibrous-rooted herbs, with basal spreading lanceolate leaves, and small white or yellow bracted perfect flowers in a terminal spike-like raceme. Perianth oblong or campanulate, roughened without, 6-lobed, its lower part adnate to the ovary. Stamens 6, inserted on the perianth at the bases of the lobes, included; filaments short; anthers introrse. Ovary 3-celled; ovules numerous, anatropous; style subulate, or short, 3-cleft above; stigmas minutely 2-lobed. Capsule ovoid, enclosed by the persistent perianth, 3-celled, many-seeded, loculicidal. Seeds oblong, ribbed. Embryo small. Endosperm fleshy. [Greek, signifying to grind corn, apparently in allusion to the rough, mealy flowers.]
About 8 species, natives of eastern North America and eastern Asia. Type species: A. farinosa L.
A genus of uncertain affinity, which has been placed by authors in Haemodoraceae and in Amaryllidaceae.
Aletris farinosa L. Sp. PI. 319. 1753.
Roots numerous, tough, scape ii°-3° tall, slender, terete, striate, bearing several or numerous small distant bract-like leaves. Basal leaves several, lanceolate or linear-lanceolate, acuminate at the apex, narrowed to the base, spreading, pale yellowish green, 2'-6' long, 3"-10" wide; raceme 4'-12' long in flower, or longer in fruit, dense, erect, pedicels 1" long or less; bracts subulate, longer than the pedicels, sometimes 2 to each flower; perianth tubular-oblong, white, or the short lobes yellowish, 3"-4" long, about 1 1/2" thick; style subulate; capsule ovoid, about 2" long, loculicidal above, each of its 3 valves tipped with a subulate portion of the style.
In dry, mostly sandy soil, Maine to Ontario and Minnesota, south to Florida and Arkansas. Ascends to 3500 ft. in Virginia. Ague-grass, Blazing-star, Bitter-grass, Bitter-plant, Crow-corn. Mealy-starwort. Aloe-, Star- or Husk-root. Unicorn-root or -horn. May-July.
Aletris aurea Walt., admitted into our first edi-. tion, is not certainly known to grow north of South Carolina. It has been mistaken in New Jersey for yellowish-flowered races of A. farinosa.