Medeola, from Medea, the name of a sorceress; because the plant was thought to possess great medicinal virtues.
Perennial. Moist woods and shady places in rich soil. Nova Scotia to Ontario and Minnesota, south to Florida and Tennessee. Frequent in northern Ohio. May, June.
White, one to two inches long, fleshy.
Twelve to eighteen inches high, at first brownish with cottony wool.
In two whorls, the lower above the middle of the stem consisting of six to eight oblong, lanceolate, acuminate leaves, which are often stained with crimson when the plant is in fruit.
Terminal, three to six on pedicels about half an inch long, arising from the centre of the upper whorl, and recurved between the leaves.
Indian Cucumber-Root. Medeola Virginiana
Pale greenish yellow; six-parted; divisions oblong, obtuse, revolute.
Six, inserted on the base of the perianth; filaments slender; anthers obtuse.
Ovary three-celled; styles three, sometimes four, purple, longer than the stamens.
Dark purple, globose berry.
The appearance of this plant is sui generis; once seen it cannot be mistaken for any other. A simple, slender, erect stem, bearing two whorls of leaves and in the blooming season three or more greenish, starry flowers at its very tip, later a little group of dark purple berries, each on a slender stem. The horizontal, club-shaped rootstock is white, crisp, and juicy, and tastes not unlike cucumbers, whence its common name. Its medicinal properties were greatly overrated, and the plant is now considered valueless in the materia medica.