Species At Risk

Colicroot

(Aletris farinosa)

Threatened

Colicroot
Colicroot occurrences map

Description

Colicroot is a member of the lily family. It has a tall flowering stalk that reaches 40 to 100 centimetres and holds many white to creamy white, tubular flowers, ending with six spreading lobes, arranged in a long spike. This plant has thin, pale yellowish-green leaves that reach about eight to 15 centimetres in length. A cluster of leaves surrounds the base of the stem in a star-shape, which inspired the other common name for this species, “Stargrass.” Each fruit contains up to 1000 seeds.

Range

In Canada, Colicroot is found only in southwestern Ontario.

Habitat

In Ontario, Colicroot grows in open, sunny, and moist habitats with sandy or mucky soil, such as prairies and old abandoned fields. It has also been found along roadsides and forest edges. It does not tolerate shade or competition from other plants and appears to do well in areas that are kept open by fire, drought, grazing and other disturbances.

Threats

The main threat to Colicroot is habitat destruction due to residential and road development and natural changes, such as when open fields gradually change into thickets and forests. This process is called “natural succession”. Invasive plants such as Scots pine, which shade out this sun-loving plant, are a problem in some areas, along with recreational activities such as ATV use.

Protection

Colicroot is protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act and the federal Species at Risk Act.

For more information on legislation that helps protect Ontario's species at risk visit ontario.ca/speciesatrisk.

What You Can Do to Help Colicroot

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as Colicroot. You can use a handy online form to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful. nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Private land owners have a very important role to play in species recovery. If you find Colicroot on your property, you may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats. For more information, visit: ontario.ca/speciesatrisk.
  • Colicroot and many other species at risk depend on healthy grassland prairies, a habitat that is very rare in Ontario. Learn more about this habitat, the species that depend on it, and what you can do to help at www.tallgrassontario.org.
  • Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.
  • Pollinators, such as bees, are in steep decline across the globe and they play a key role in the survival of many of Ontario’s rare plants. For information on how you can help scientists monitor pollinator populations in Ontario visit: www.seeds.ca/proj/poll.
  • Invasive species seriously threaten many of Ontario’s species at risk. To learn what you can do to help reduce the threat of invasive species, visit: ontario.ca/invasivespecies ; www.invadingspecies.com ; www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca ; and, www.invasivespecies.gc.ca .

Did you know?

Aboriginal people used Colicroot to treat colic, digestion problems, coughs, and fevers.

Did you know?

Colicroot is also known as “Ague root” because it was used to treat some fevers, which were often referred to as “ague” in Middle English.

Did you know?

Colicroot is pollinated by bumblebees and flies. The plant’s small seeds are scattered by the wind.