Chamaelirium luteum

Common Name: fairy wand 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Melanthiaceae
Native Range: Eastern North America
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy


Grow in organically rich, moist, acidic, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Prefers good fertility. Soils should not be allowed to dry out. May be grown from seed. Best propagation is by division of the rhizome. Will naturalize in the garden over time. Plants with small rhizomes may not initially produce flowering stalks.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Chamaelirium luteum, commonly called fairy wand, is native to moist, acidic soils in shaded areas of meadows, woods and thickets in eastern North America. It is a dioecious plant with a short-rhizome that typically grows 2-3’ (less frequently to 4’) tall and features a basal rosette of foliage and a central flowering stalk. Male plants grow up to 2.5’ tall, but female plants may grow as tall as 4’. Tiny flowers in spike-like terminal racemes appear in June. Flowers on the male plant grow in dense, arching, plume-like spikes (to 9” long). Flowers on the female plants are in smaller erect spikes. Female plants produce seed in 3-valved, ellipsoid capsules. The dark green basal leaves (to 8” long) are smooth and spoon-shaped, but the stem leaves are much shorter and narrower. This plant has a number of additional common names including false unicorn root, devil’s bit, blazing star, starwort, rattlesnake-root, squirrel tails and helonias. Plants have become rare in many parts of the original geographic range, and should never be dug from the wild.

Genus name comes from the Greek words chamai meaning dwarf and lirion meaning a lily.

Specific epithet means yellow.


No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for slugs and snails.


Group or mass in woodland and/or wildflower gardens. Also appropriate for native plant gardens, cottage gardens or borders. Will naturalize in optimum growing conditions.