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..
A low glabrous perennial herb, the stem simple or branched, the lower leaves reduced to opposite scales, the upper foliaceous, subtending the racemose-spicate or thyrsoid white or purplish flowers. Calyx of 2 spatulate sepals. Corolla oblong-campanulate, 4-cleft, the lobes imbricated, at least in the bud. Stamens 4, inserted in the sinuses of the corolla; filaments slightly longer than the ovate sagittate anthers. Ovary 1-celled, with 4 internal placental projections; ovules numerous; style distinct; stigma 2-lamellate. Capsule ovoid, 2-valved or irregularly bursting. Seeds minute, covering the whole interior of the capsule. [Greek, obolus, a coin, alluding to the thick round leaves.]
A monotypic genus of eastern North America.
Obolaria virginica L. Sp. Pl. 632. 1753.
Stems 3'-6' high from a perennial base with thick fibrous roots, bearing 2-6 pairs of thick small obtuse scales in place of leaves. Floral leaves broadly obovate-cuneate, obtuse, purplish, 4"-6" long; flowers sessile or nearly so in the axils, in clusters of 1-4 (usually 3), and terminal; corolla about 5" long, cleft to about the middle, the lobes oblong, obtuse, entire, or denticulate; stamens included; capsule 21/2" long.
In rich woods and thickets. New Jersey to Georgia, west to Illinois and Texas. Ascends to 2600 ft. in Virginia. April-May.