This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol1", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Scapose herbs, from thick scaly rootstocks and fleshy coralloid roots, the leaves reduced to purplish scales, sheathing the scape. Flowers bracted in a loose terminal raceme. Perianth not gibbous or spurred at the base, the petals and sepals similar, nerved, spreading. Lip obovate, with several crested ridges down the middle, somewhat 3-lobed, the middle lobe a little concave. Column free, thick, slightly incurved. Pollinia 8, united in a cluster. Capsule ellipsoid, the fruiting pedicels thick. [Greek, signifying six crest's.]
Two known species, the following typical one and another in Mexico.
Arethusa spicata Walt. Fl. Car. 222. 1788. Bletia aphylla Nutt. Gen. 2: 194. 1818. Hexalectris squamosus Raf. Fl. Tell. 4: 48. 1836. H. aphyllus Raf.; A. Gray, Man. Ed. 6, 501. 1890. H. spicata Barnhart, Torreya 4: 121. 1904.
Scape stout, 8'-2o' high, its upper scales lanceolate, the lower sheathing and truncate or acute. Raceme 4'-7' long, 8-12-flowered; flowers large, brownish purple, 1' high or more; pedicels short, stout; sepals and petals narrowly elliptic, obtuse or acutish, spreading, striped with purple veins, 6"-9' long, longer than the broad lip; middle lobe of the lip rounded or crenulate, the lateral ones shorter, rounded; column slightly spreading at the summit, shorter than the lip; capsule ellipsoid, nearly 1' long, the fruiting pedicels 4"-5" long.