False Unicorn Root (Chamaelirium luteum) is a Medicinal Herb Used in Traditional Herbal Medicine.

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Medicinal Herbs & Therapeutic Botanicals

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Botanicals: Name (Chamaelirium luteum)

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Acording to Mrs. Grieve's 'A Modern Herbal, False Unicorn Root is "an herbaceous perennial found in low moist ground east of the Mississipi and flowering in May and June. Stem 1 to 3 feet high, simple, smooth, angular; leaves alternate, spatulate below, lanceolate above, radical leaves, 8 inches long, 1/2 inch wide, narrow at base and formed into a whorl; flowers numerous, small, greenish white, bractless, dioecious, in a dense, terminal raceme, nodding like a plume, 6 inches long, petals of such flowers narrow, stamens longer than the petals, filaments tapering; anthers terminal, two lobed; petals of female flowers linear; stamens short; ovary ovate, triangular, furrowed; stigmas three-capsule, oblong, three-furrowed, opening at summit; fruit many, compressed, acute; rhizome bulbous, terminating abruptly, 1 inch long; odour faint; taste bitter. Solvents: alcohol, water."

Botanicals: False Unicorn Root (Chamaelirium luteum)



False Unicorn Root


herbaceous plantBiological Name:
Chamaelirium luteum (L.) A. Gray


Other Names: 
Devil's-bit, Fairy Wand, Blazing Star, Drooping Starwort, Rattlesnake-root, Squirrel Tails, and False Unicorn Root.

Parts Used:
Dried rhizome and root

Active Compounds: 
Steroidal saponins, which include chamaelirin 1

Chamaelirium luteum is used both medicinally and as an ornamental plant. Called “helonias” in the medicinal and herbal literature, C. luteum was used by American Indians and by 1917 was  onsidered one of the more widely used domestic drugs in North America. Medicinal uses include treatment of colic, stomach ailments, indigestion, the expulsion of worms, stimulation of appetite, and a variety of ailments associated with both male and female reproductive organs. False Unicorn Root contains estrogenic compounds2.


Traditional Applications in Herbal Medicine:

Western Herbal Applications:


Uterine tonic1,3, diuretic1.3, anthelmintic1, anti-inflammatory, emmenagogue, emetic1,3, vermifuge1,3.


The primary indication for its use is a dragging sensation in the extreme lower abdomen1. This herb, used by the North American Indians, is one of the best tonics and strengtheners of the reproductive system that we have. Though primarily used for the female system, it can be equally beneficial for men. It is known to contain precursors of the estrogens. However, it acts in an amphoteric way to normalize function.

In large doses a cardiac poison. Of the greatest value in female disorders of the reproductive organs. The indication for its use is a dragging sensation in the extreme lower abdomen. It is useful in impotence, as a tonic in genito-urinary weakness or irritability, for liver and kidney diseases. Especially in diseases due to poor action of the liver and not to weakness of the heart or circulation. It is a good remedy in albuminaria.

The body may use this herb to balance and tone and thus it will aid in apparently opposite situations. Whilst being of help in all uterine problems, it is specifically useful in delayed or absent menstruation. Where ovarian pain occurs, False Unicorn Root may be safely used. It is also indicated to prevent threatened miscarriage and ease vomiting associated with pregnancy. However, large doses will cause nausea and vomiting.



Consult a qualified herbalist


No information available. Some herbs are known to react with your medication. Please consult your physician before starting on any herb.



  1. Hoffmann, David (1983). The Holistic Herbal: A herbal celebrating the wholeness of life. Findhorn Press, Scotland.
  2. Allard, D. J. 2003. Chamaelirium luteum (L.) A. Gray (Devil's Bit). Conservation and
    Research Plan for New England. New England Wild Flower Society, Framingham,
    Massachusetts, USA.
  3. Grieve, M. (1977). A Modern Herbal. Penguin Books Ltd, England.


The information provided here is not for the purpose of self diagnosis or self treatment. It is provided for the sole purpose of providing general information about herbs used in herbal medicine. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.

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