As a garden flower, this species is probably familiar to nearly everyone. While, as a native, it is only found in some of the southeastern mountain ranges, it is sometimes found in the North as an escape from cultivation. The flower we usually see in florists or in gardens is the European species but it appears to be identical with our native southern one. It is a delicately beautiful species, very rich in fragrance and very hardy; its popularity is shown by the frequency with which it appears in both poetry and prose. The bell-shaped, white flowers, with six short, re-curved lobes, grow in a one-sided raceme at the top of a scape, the base of which is sheathed by the two large, broad, oblong-pointed, parallel-veined leaves. It flowers in May and June in mountains from Va. to S. C.
Common Green Brier (Smilax Rotundifolia) is a woody climbing vine with scattered sharp prickles; it climbs by means of pairs of tendrils from the axils of the leaves. Leaves alternating along the stem; round-ovate, sharply pointed at the tip and somewhat heart-shaped at the base. Flowers, few on slender peduncles from the angles of the leaves; perianth bell-shaped, with six short, spreading lobes, pale greenish in color. Common in moist thickets from N. S. to Minn, and southwards, flowering in May and June.
Carrion Flower (Smilax Herbacea) has a herbaceous stem without prickles. The flowers are small, light green, carrion-scented, in a many flowered umbel on a long petiole from the angle of a leaf. Leaves heart-shaped and parallel-nerved. Found in the same range and flowers at the same time as the last. The genus smilax consists of many widely distributed species, usually having blue-black berries in the Fall.
Indian Cucumber-root. Medeola virginiana.
Indian Cucumber-Root (Medeola Virginiana) is a common woodland plant, but the flowers are so inconspicuous that they are often overlooked; in fact they are often nodding below the upper leaves so as to be invisible. The stem is tall and slender, ranging from 1 to 3 feet in height; it rises from a thick horizontal rootstalk, having a taste similar to that of the cucumber. A whorl of from five to nine ovate-lanceolate, pointed leaves is located midway on the stem; at the top, three smaller but similarly shaped leaves radiate. Above these, or it may be" below, because of the curving pedicels, are three flowers. They are pale greenish-yellow; the three sepals and three petals composing the perianth are very much reflexed or curled; they have six stamens each, and one style dividing into three purplish-brown, recurved stigmas.
It is said that the Indians formerly used the roots for food; at the present time they are used for various medicinal preparations. Cucumber-root is found from N. B. to Manitoba and southwards to the Gulf, flowering in rich woods during May and June.