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..
Low herbs, with slender rootstocks, erect simple few-leaved stems, petioled or sessile leaves and small white flowers in a terminal raceme, the pedicels commonly 2-3 together. Perianth of 4 separate spreading segments. Stamens 4, inserted at the bases of the segments; filaments filiform; anthers introrse. Ovary sessile, globose, 2-celled; ovules 2 in each cavity; style about as long as the ovary, 2-lobed or 2-cleft. Berry globular, 1-2-seeded. [Many plants bear only a solitary long-petioled leaf, arising from the rootstock, whence the Latin name.]
Two known species, the following of eastern North America, the other of Europe, Asia and northwest America. Type species: Convalaria bifolia L.
Maianthcmum canadense Desf. Ann. Mus. Paris 9: 54. 1807. Smilacina bifoiia var. canadensis A. Gray Man.
Glabrous or pubescent. Stem slender, erect, often zigzag, 1-3-leaved (usually 2-leaved), 2'-7' high; leaves ovate or ovate-lanceolate, l'-3' long, acute, acuminate, or blunt and cuspidate at the apex, cordate at the base with a narrow or closed sinus, sessile, short-petioled, or the lowest sometimes with a petiole 1/2' long; solitary leaves of the stemless plants on petioles l'-4 long; raceme rather dense, many-flowered, 1'-2' long; pedicels mostly longer than the flowers; perianth-segments oblong, obtuse, becoming reflexed, about 1" long, rather longer than the stamens; berry pale red, speckled, about 2" in diameter.
In moist woods and thickets, Newfoundland to the Northwest Territory, south to North Carolina, Tennessee, Iowa and South Dakota. Ascends to 5000 ft. in Virginia. Cowslip. Bead-ruby. One-leaf. One-blade. May-July.