Stem. - Scape-like, nine inches to two feet high, with usually one small rounded leaf clasping it below; bearing at its summit a single flower. Leaves. - Thickish, rounded, often heart-shaped, from the root. Flower. - White or cream-color, veiny. Calyx. - Of five slightly united sepals. Corolla. - Of five veiny petals. True Stamens. - Five, alternate with the petals, and with clusters of sterile gland-tipped filaments. Pistil. - One, with four stigmas.
Gerarde indignantly declares that this plant has been described by blind men, not "such as are blinde in their eyes, but in their understandings, for if this plant be a kind of grasse then may the Butter-burre or Colte's-foote be reckoned for grasses - as also all other plants whatsoever." But if it covered Parnassus with its delicate veiny blossoms as abundantly as it does some moist New England meadows each autumn, the ancients may have reasoned that a plant almost as common as grass must somehow partake of its nature. The slender-stemmed, creamy flowers are never seen to better advantage than when disputing with the fringed gentian the possession of some luxurious swamp.
Plate XXXIV. Grass Of Parnassus - P. Caroliniana