False Unicorn

SCIENTIFIC NAME(S): Chamaelirium luteum (L.) Gray,
Family: Liliaceae (Lilies)

COMMON NAME(S): False unicorn, helonias root, devil's bit, blazing star, drooping starwort, rattlesnake, fairy-wand

False unicorn is native to Mississippi and continues to grow primarily in the southern part of the United States. The roots of false unicorn are most commonly used in herbal medicine.


False unicorn root was used by the Eclectic medical movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Its chief use was for female complaints or as a uterine tonic in the treatment of amenorrhea or morning sickness. It has also been used for appetite stimulation and as a diuretic, vermifuge, emetic, and insecticide.

Botany :- Chamaelirium luteum is a native lily of the eastern US. It is considered a threatened species because of a loss of habitat and effects of collection from the wild for herbal use. Cultivation is considered possible, but bas not yet become commercially important. The root is collected in autumn. C. luteum is a dioecious species (ie, the male and female flowers are borne on separate plants). The plant has been confused with the lilies Helonias bul!ata and Aletris farinosa (true unicorn root), because of several shared common names.

Uses of False Unicorn

Historically, false unicorn has been used as a uterine tonic for treatment of amenorrhea and morning sickness, as an appetite stimulant, diuretic, vermifuge, emetic, and insecticide.

Side Effects of False Unicorn

False unicorn can be emetic at high doses. Safety has not been established during pregnancy.


The most common form of false unicorn supplementation is as tincture. As tincture 1/2-1 teaspoon of false unicorn is recommended three times daily. If taking the dried root, take 1/4-1/2 teaspoon (1-2 grams) three times per day.


False unicorn root is emetic at high doses. Cattle have died from consumption of the plant.The safety of the plant for use in pregnancy has not been established.

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