Aletris farinosa - L.
White-tubed Colicroot
Other English Common Names: Northern White Colicroot, White Colicroot
Other Common Names: white colicroot
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Aletris farinosa L. (TSN 42769)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.141280
Element Code: PMLIL01030
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Lily Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Monocotyledoneae Liliales Liliaceae Aletris
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference
Help
Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Aletris farinosa
Conservation Status
Help

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 06Aug2015
Global Status Last Changed: 09Feb1984
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: A fairly wide ranging and common species in eastern North America, Aletris farinosa is able to grow in a variety of habitats and elevations. However, commercial interest in this slow-growing species as a medicinal plant may be a threat to wild populations. Some cultivated material is traded, but a majority of the supply of roots is wild-collected. This species is also threatened by land conversion and accompanying hydrologic changes.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5
Nation: Canada
National Status: N2 (14Oct2017)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (SNR), Arkansas (SNR), Connecticut (SNR), Delaware (S3), District of Columbia (SNR), Georgia (S5), Illinois (S3?), Indiana (SNR), Kentucky (S3S4), Louisiana (SNR), Maine (SX), Maryland (SNR), Massachusetts (SNR), Michigan (SNR), Mississippi (SNR), New Hampshire (SH), New Jersey (S4), New York (S2), North Carolina (S5), Ohio (SNR), Oklahoma (S1S2), Pennsylvania (S1), Rhode Island (S2), South Carolina (SNR), Tennessee (SNR), Texas (SNR), Virginia (S5), West Virginia (S3), Wisconsin (S4)
Canada Ontario (S2)

Other Statuses

Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1/Annexe 1 Status: T (05Jun2003)
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Endangered (26Nov2015)
Comments on COSEWIC: Reason for designation: This perennial herb is restricted to remnant, disturbance-dependent prairie habitats in southwestern Ontario. It continues to decline in the face of multiple threats, including habitat modification, invasive species, and browsing by deer. Prairie habitat, for example, naturally transitions to less suitable habitat types in the absence of periodic disturbance (e.g., fire), and its quality and extent are also vulnerable to ongoing urban and industrial development. Recent construction of a new transportation corridor caused the removal of more than 50% of all mature plants in the Canadian population and loss of habitat. Although plants have been transplanted from the transportation corridor to nearby restoration sites, it is too early to know whether these relocated subpopulations will be self-sustaining so they cannot yet be considered to contribute to the population.

Status history: Designated Threatened in April 1988. Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2000. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in November 2015.

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: This species grows south from New England and southern Canada to Florida and west through Texas.

Population Size Comments: Common in Virginia and North Carolina (Weakley 2000 Draft). In 1988 this species was designated "threatened" in Ontario, Canada, the only province with extant populations. In 1988, there were 17 extant and 15 historical stations in Ontario (Kirk 1988). This species is known from several sites in Indiana, some of which are protected (pers. comm. C. Hedge, December 2000). It is also considered relatively common in Tennessee where it is concentrated in the Eastern Highland Rim, Cumberland Plateau, and Blue Ridge (pers. comm. C. Nordman, December 2000). A. farinosa is considered "infrequent" and scattered throughout southern Alabama (pers. comm. A. Schotz, December 2000).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: This plant has historically been collected from the wild for the herbal medicinal industry, however more material in commerce today is cultivated. Some experts in the medicinal plant industry have suggested that trade is medium to large and demand has increased over the past ten years (Robbins 1999). Currently, collection is "steady and modest" according to Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association (pers. comm. December 2000). Estimated average annual use in medicinal industry is 500 dry pounds and 85% of that total is still collected from wild populations (pers. comm. E. Fletcher, December 2000). This is a slow growing plant, so over-collection is a potential threat, given a significant increase in demand.

Conversion of remnant native prairie habitats to agriculture has posed the greatest threat to those populations in Canada (Kirk 1988). Likewise, populations have been destroyed in Alabama due to timber harvests and land conversion to pine plantations, which is a significant threat generally to native populations throughout the state (pers. comm. A. Schotz, December 2000). Aletris farinosa is sensitive to hydrologic changes that accompany logging operations, however it may respond favorably to the increased light that results (pers. comm. D. White, November 2000).

Short-term Trend Comments: Apparently relatively stable; no population inventories reporting major decline; however some experts in the medicinal plant industry have suggested that populations and species have declined over the past ten years (Robbins 1999).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
Help
Global Range: This species grows south from New England and southern Canada to Florida and west through Texas.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, MEextirpated, MI, MS, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, WI, WV
Canada ON

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
DE Sussex (10005)
ME Androscoggin (23001)*, Cumberland (23005)*, Sagadahoc (23023)*, York (23031)*
NH Cheshire (33005)*
NY Nassau (36059), Suffolk (36103)
OK Pushmataha (40127)
PA Berks (42011)*, Bucks (42017)*, Chester (42029), Clinton (42035)*, Delaware (42045), Lancaster (42071), Luzerne (42079)*, Montgomery (42091)*, Philadelphia (42101)*, Susquehanna (42115)*, Venango (42121)
RI Bristol (44001), Kent (44003)*, Providence (44007), Washington (44009)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Lower Androscoggin (01040002)+*, Presumpscot (01060001)+*, Piscataqua-Salmon Falls (01060003)+*, Middle Connecticut (01080201)+*, Blackstone (01090003)+, Narragansett (01090004)+, Pawcatuck-Wood (01090005)+, Quinebaug (01100001)+*
02 Northern Long Island (02030201)+, Southern Long Island (02030202)+, Middle Delaware-Musconetcong (02040105)+*, Lower Delaware (02040202)+, Schuylkill (02040203)+*, Brandywine-Christina (02040205)+*, Chincoteague (02040303)+, Upper Susquehanna-Tunkhannock (02050106)+*, Lower Susquehanna (02050306)+, Chester-Sassafras (02060002)+*
05 Middle Allegheny-Tionesta (05010003)+
11 Kiamichi (11140105)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Help
Basic Description: Herbaceous perennial growing erect often 1.5 to 3 feet tall. Basal lance-shaped leaves with white tubular flowers that grow on a leafless stalk (Foster and Duke 1990).
Technical Description: Scape 4.5 - dm tall; stem bearing several to numerous small distinct bract-like leaves; basal leaves spreading pale yellowish-green, 5-15 dm long, 6-20 mm wide; raceme 1-3 dm long in flower or longer in fruit dense, erect; pedicels 2 mm long or less; about 3 mm thick; capsule about 4 mm long (Strausbaugh and Core 1978).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Aletris farinosa can be distinguished from the two other Aletris species because it has a white rather than yellow perianth (Kirk 1988).
Habitat Comments: Grows in moist or dry peat and sandy soils (Foster and Duke 1990). It is found in rich sandy woods and thickets and dry to mesic prairies. A. farinosa also grows on the coastal plain and mountainous regions of South Carolina (pers. comm. J. Nelson, October 2000) and in open moist places in southeastern Kentucky (pers. comm. D. White, October 2000).
Economic Attributes
Help
Economically Important Genus: Y
Economic Uses: MEDICINE/DRUG
Production Method: Cultivated, Wild-harvested
Management Summary Not yet assessed
Help
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
Help
Population/Occurrence Viability
Help
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
Help
Authors/Contributors
Help
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 25Jan2001
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Kelly McConnell
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 31Jan2001
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): K. MCCONNELL

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
  • Ben-Oliel, R., and M.J. Oldham. 2000. COSSARO Candidate V, T, E Species Evaluation Form for Colicroot (Aletris farinosa). Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO), Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, Ontario (October 2000). 7 pp. + 5 appendices.

  • COSSARO. 2016. Ontario Species at Risk Evaluation Report for Colicroot (Aletris farinosa). Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario.  June 2016 (final). 14 pp.
     

  • Clemants, Steven and Carol Gracie. 2006. Wildflowers in the Field and Forest. A Field Guide to the Northeastern United States. Oxford University Press, New York, NY. 445 pp.

  • Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). 1988. Status report on the colicroot Aletris farinosa L. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ontario, Canada.

  • Deam, C. C. 1940. Flora of Indiana. Division of Forestry, Dept. of Conservation, Indianapolis, Indiana. 1236 pp.

  • Elliott, D. 1995. Wild Roots: A Forager's Guide to the Edible and Medicinal Roots, Tubers, Corms, and Rhizomes of North America. Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vermont. Pp. 30-31.

  • Fernald, M. L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. Corrected printing (1970). D. Van Nostrand Company, New York. 1632 pp.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2002. Flora of North America, North of Mexico. Volume 26. Magnoliophyta: Liliidae: Liliales and Orchidales. Oxford University Press, New York. 723 pp.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2002a. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 26. Magnoliophyta: Liliidae: Liliales and Orchidales. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xxvi + 723 pp.

  • Foster, S. and J. Duke. 2000. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America. Second edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York.

  • Foster, S., and J. Duke. 1990. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants- Eastern and Central North America. Peterson Field Guides Series. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 366 pp.

  • Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.

  • Holmgren, Noel. 1998. The Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1996. Species distribution data at state and province level for vascular plant taxa of the United States, Canada, and Greenland (accepted records), from unpublished data files at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, December, 1996.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Killingbeck, K., B. Deegan, and R. Flores. 1998. Rare plant abundance in an endangered species "hot spot". Northeastern Naturalist 5(4):283-292.

  • Kirk, D.A. 1987. Conservation Recommendations for Colicroot, ALETRIS FARINOSA L., a Threatened Species in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), Ontario. 5 pp.

  • Kirk, D.A. 1987. Status Report on Colicroot, Aletris farinosa L., in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, Ottawa. 32 pp.

  • Kirk, D.A. 1988. Status report on the Colicroot, Aletris farinosa. COSEWIC report.

  • Kirk, D.A. 1988. Status report on the Colicroot, Aletris farinosa. Cosewic report.

  • Moye, William S. 2006. Highly Ranked Plants of the South Mountain Region. Unpublished notes sent via email to Misty Franklin in February 2006.

  • Newcomb, Lawrence. 1977. Newcomb's Wildflower Guide: An Ingenious New Key System for Quick, Positive Field Identification of the Wildflowers, Flowering Shrubs, and Vines of Northeastern and North-Central North America. Little, Brown and Company. Boston.

  • Oldham, M.J. 1996. COSSARO Candidate V, T, E Species Evaluation Form for Colicroot (Aletris farinosa). Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO), Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, Ontario. 5 pp.

  • Robbins, C. 1999. Medicine from US wildlands: An assessment of native plant species harvested in the United States for medicinal use and trade and evaluation of the conservation and management implications. Traffic North America. Prepared for The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA. Available at http://www.nps.gov/plants/medicinal/.

  • Stewart, W. 1979. ALETRIS FARINOSA L. in Elgin County, Ontario. Ontario Field Biologist 33(2):53-54.

  • Strausbaugh, P.D., and E.L. Core. 1978. Flora of West Virginia. Seneca Books, Inc., Grantsville, WV. 1079 pp.

  • Swink, F., and G. Wilhelm. 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region. Morton Arboretum. Lisle, Illinois.

  • Weakley, A.S. 2000. Flora of the Carolinas and Virginia: working draft of May 15, 2000. Unpublished draft, The Nature Conservancy, Southern Resource Office.

  • Weldy, T. and D. Werier. 2010. New York flora atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research http://www.fccdr.usf.edu/. University of South Florida http://www.usf.edu/]. New York Flora Association http://wwws.nyflora.org/, Albany, New York

  • White, D.J. and M.J. Oldham. 2000. COSEWIC Status Report Update on Colicroot. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), Ottawa, Ontario. 6 pp.

  • White, D.J. and M.J. Oldham. 2000. Update COSEWIC status report on the colicroot Aletris farinosa in Canada, in COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the colicroot Aletris farinosa in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. 8 pp.

Use Guidelines & Citation

Use Guidelines and Citation

The Small Print: Trademark, Copyright, Citation Guidelines, Restrictions on Use, and Information Disclaimer.

Note: All species and ecological community data presented in NatureServe Explorer at http://explorer.natureserve.org were updated to be current with NatureServe's central databases as of March 2019.
Note: This report was printed on

Trademark Notice: "NatureServe", NatureServe Explorer, The NatureServe logo, and all other names of NatureServe programs referenced herein are trademarks of NatureServe. Any other product or company names mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.

Copyright Notice: Copyright © 2019 NatureServe, 2511 Richmond (Jefferson Davis) Highway, Suite 930, Arlington, VA 22202, U.S.A. All Rights Reserved. Each document delivered from this server or web site may contain other proprietary notices and copyright information relating to that document. The following citation should be used in any published materials which reference the web site.

Citation for data on website including State Distribution, Watershed, and Reptile Range maps:
NatureServe. 2019. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available http://explorer.natureserve.org. (Accessed:

Citation for Bird Range Maps of North America:
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Bird Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE."

Citation for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."

Citation for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
"Data developed as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment and provided by IUCN-World Conservation Union, Conservation International and NatureServe."

NOTE: Full metadata for the Bird Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/birdDistributionmapsmetadatav1.pdf.

Full metadata for the Mammal Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/mammalsDistributionmetadatav1.pdf.

Restrictions on Use: Permission to use, copy and distribute documents delivered from this server is hereby granted under the following conditions:
  1. The above copyright notice must appear in all copies;
  2. Any use of the documents available from this server must be for informational purposes only and in no instance for commercial purposes;
  3. Some data may be downloaded to files and altered in format for analytical purposes, however the data should still be referenced using the citation above;
  4. No graphics available from this server can be used, copied or distributed separate from the accompanying text. Any rights not expressly granted herein are reserved by NatureServe. Nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring by implication, estoppel, or otherwise any license or right under any trademark of NatureServe. No trademark owned by NatureServe may be used in advertising or promotion pertaining to the distribution of documents delivered from this server without specific advance permission from NatureServe. Except as expressly provided above, nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring any license or right under any NatureServe copyright.
Information Warranty Disclaimer: All documents and related graphics provided by this server and any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server are provided "as is" without warranty as to the currentness, completeness, or accuracy of any specific data. NatureServe hereby disclaims all warranties and conditions with regard to any documents provided by this server or any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, including but not limited to all implied warranties and conditions of merchantibility, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement. NatureServe makes no representations about the suitability of the information delivered from this server or any other documents that are referenced to or linked to this server. In no event shall NatureServe be liable for any special, indirect, incidental, consequential damages, or for damages of any kind arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information contained in any documents provided by this server or in any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, under any theory of liability used. NatureServe may update or make changes to the documents provided by this server at any time without notice; however, NatureServe makes no commitment to update the information contained herein. Since the data in the central databases are continually being updated, it is advisable to refresh data retrieved at least once a year after its receipt. The data provided is for planning, assessment, and informational purposes. Site specific projects or activities should be reviewed for potential environmental impacts with appropriate regulatory agencies. If ground-disturbing activities are proposed on a site, the appropriate state natural heritage program(s) or conservation data center can be contacted for a site-specific review of the project area (see Visit Local Programs).

Feedback Request: NatureServe encourages users to let us know of any errors or significant omissions that you find in the data through (see Contact Us). Your comments will be very valuable in improving the overall quality of our databases for the benefit of all users.