5. Aletris Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 319. 1753; Gen. Pl. ed. 5, 149. 1754.
Colic-root, stargrass [Greek aletris, a female slave who ground corn, alluding to the mealy texture of the perianths]
Victoria I. Sullivan
Herbs, perennial, scapose, rhizomatous. Leaves in dense basal rosettes, clasping erect branches; blade narrowly linear to lanceolate, oblanceolate, linear-elliptic, or elliptic, flat, leathery, distal margins fused to form subulate tips. Scape 2–10 dm. Inflorescences racemose. Flowers each subtended by 2 subulate, unequal bracts, short-pedicellate; perianth white, yellow, or golden orange, cylindrical, campanulate, or obovoid, abaxial surfaces rough; tepals 6, connate basally; stamens 6, included; filaments adnate to perianth; anthers oblong-lanceolate, longer than filaments; ovary half inferior with proximal portions of perianth adnate at maturity; style 3-branched at apex. Fruits capsular, 3-locular, beaked. Seeds amber, deeply sulcate, ellipsoid to ovoid, 0.5–0.8 mm, lustrous.
Species ca. 25 (5 in the flora): North America, West Indies (Bahamas), eastern Asia.
Some species of Aletris (e.g., A. lutea and A. obovata) are quickly eliminated unless habitats are occasionally burned or otherwise kept clear of undergrowth.
Sullivan, V. I. 1973. Biosystematics of Aletris lutea Small, Aletris obovata Nash and natural hybrids. Brittonia 25: 294–303.