A slender erect unbranched herb, loosely provided with deciduous wool. Rootstock thick, white, tuber-like, with somewhat the odor and taste of cucumbers, the slender fibrous roots numerous. Leaves of flowering plants in 2 whorls (rarely 3 whorls); lower whorl of 4-10 oblong-lanceolate or obovate leaves; upper whorl of 3-5 ovate or oval leaves, subtending, like an involucre, the sessile umbel of small greenish yellow declined flowers. Perianth of 6 separate equal oblong recurved segments. Stamens 6, hypogynous; filaments slender, smooth, longer than the oblong extrorse anthers, the sacs laterally dehiscent. Ovary 3-celled; ovules several in each cavity; styles 3, recurved, stigmatic along the inner side. Berry globose, pulpy. [Name from Medea, a sorceress, referring to the supposed healing properties.]

A monotypic genus of eastern North America.

1. Medeola Virginiana L. Indian Cucumber-Root

Fig. 1298

Medeola virginiana L. Sp. PI. 339. 1753.

Rootstock 1-3' long. Stem 1°-2 1/2° tall, bearing the lower whorl of leaves above the middle, or in flowerless plants at the summit; leaves of the lower whorl sessile, 2 1/2'-5' long, 1-2' wide, acuminate at the apex, narrowed at the base, 3-5-nerved and reticulate-veined; leaves of the upper whorl 1'-2' long, 1/2'-1' wide, short-petioled or sessile; umbel 2-9-flowered; pedicels filiform, 1' long or less, declined in flower, erect or ascending in fruit; perianth-segments 3"-5" long, obtuse; berry dark purple, 4-7" in diameter.

In moist woods and thickets, Nova Scotia to Ontario, Minnesota, Florida and Tennessee. May-June.

1 Medeola Virginiana L Indian Cucumber Root 1298