This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol3", 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..
Perennial herbs, with thick rootstocks, simple erect stems, large petioled basal leaves, those of the stem much smaller, alternate, sessile, or clasping, bract-like. Flowers small, pink or purple, in terminal dense elongated spikes or racemes. Calyx 4-5-parted, the segments oblong or linear. Corolla oblong or campanulate, 2- 4-lobed, or parted, or wanting, the lateral lobes, when present, exterior in the bud. Stamens 2 (occasionally 4), posterior, inserted on the corolla, or on the outer side of the hypogynous disk, exserted; filaments slender; anther-sacs parallel or divergent, not confluent. Ovary 2-celled or rarely 3-celled; style filiform; stigma capitate. Capsule compressed, obtuse, or emarginate, many-seeded, loculicidally dehiscent. Seeds flat, oval, or orbicular. [Greek, closed doors, referring to the capsule-valves.] Our species were referred, in the first edition of this work, to the Old World genus Wulfenia.
About 10 species, natives of North America and Europe. Type species: Synthyris reni-formis Benth.
Corolla present, usually 2-lobed.
1. S. Bullii.
2. S. rubra.
Gymnandra Bullii Eaton; Eaton & Wright, 259. 1840. Synthyris Houghtoniana Benth. in DC. Prodr. 10: 454.
Pubescent; stem stout, 1°-2 1/2° high. Basal leaves ovate or orbicular, rounded at the apex, truncate, cordate or reniform at the base, crenulate all around, 2'-$' long, 5-7-nerved, petioled, the petiole usually shorter than the blade; stem-leaves small, 1/2' - 1" long, sessile or slightly clasping, crenulate, obtuse, or acute, passing gradually into the bracts of the dense spike; flowers greenish yellow, 2" - 3" long; corolla present, variously 2-4-lobed (commonly 2-lobed), little, if any, longer than the calyx, its lobes obtuse, the stamens inserted on its base; spike much elongated in fruit; capsule emarginate, slightly exceeding the calyx.
Gymnandra rubra Hook. Fl. Bor. Amer. 2: 103. pl. 172. 1838.
Synthyris rubra Benth. in DC. Prodr. 10: 455. 1846.
Wulfenia rubra Greene, Erythea 2: 83. 1894.
Besseya rubra Rydberg, Bull. Torr. Club 30: 280. 1903.
Similar to the preceding species but lower, pubescent or tomentose, seldom over 1° high. Basal leaves ovate or oblong, obtuse or acute at the apex, narrowed, truncate or cordate at the base, 1 1/2' - 3' long, crenulate, peti-oled, indistinctly nerved; stem-leaves ovate or lanceolate, acute, sessile, crenulate, or entire, 1/4' - 1' long; spike very dense, 1' - 2' long in flower, 2'-5' long in fruit, its bracts purplish; corolla none; stamens inserted on the outer side of the hypogynous disk; capsule little compressed, emarginate, slightly longer than the calyx.
In dry soil, South Dakota to Nebraska, British Columbia and Utah. May-June.