Yellow Colicroot, Beach Botany


I found a Yellow Colicroot, Alteris lutea, in the Hickey Creek Preserve. It is not like other flowering plants. Lutea is one long angular herbaceous stem waving in the wind. Something like a fisherman’s fly rod. I estimated that the stem was about 7’ in length. Lutea, a perennial, rises from a fibrous root system. The stem grows through the center of a basal rosette with sessile leaves that are attached to the stem without a petiole. Flat linear leaves are 1” to 6” long and 1” wide.  There are no leaves on the stem. The stem is about 3/8” in diameter.

Flowers have six yellow petals that are fused into a ¼” long tube. The top of the tube is open to pollinators. Six stamens and other sex organs are seated in the tube. Each flower is attached to the stem by a pedicel about 2 mm in length. The inflorescence is a raceme. I guessed that 200 to 300 flowers were on the stem. I wasn’t going to count. Blooming occurs in the Spring. Fruit, an ovoid beaked capsule with amber seeds.

Lutea is in the Nartheciaceae (Bog Asphodel Family). Genus Alteris includes six species,  all native in Florida. Distribution is in almost every county in the State. Habitats are hydric to mesic pine flatwoods, swamps and bogs. The picture shows only about 6” of the stem so these tiny flowers can be seen.


Photo by James Rodwell