This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol1", 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 perennial glabrous bog herb, with a stout rootstock, thick fibrous roots, basal ob-lanceolate persistent leaves and rather large perfect purple flowers, racemed at the summit of an erect hollow bracted scape. Perianth-segments spreading, spatulate, persistent. Stamens 6, hypogynous, longer than the perianth-segments; filaments filiform; anthers ovate. Ovary ovoid, 3-grooved, 3-celled, slightly 3-lobed, many-ovuled; styles 3, stigmatic along the inner side, deciduous. Capsule obovoid, deeply 3-lobed, the lobes divergent, ventrally dehiscent above. Seeds numerous, linear, white-appendaged at each end. [Name from the Greek, in allusion to its growth in swamps.]
A monotypic genus of eastern North America.
Helonias bullata L. Sp. PL 342. 1753.
Leaves several or numerous, dark green, thin, clustered at the base of the scape, 6'-15' long, 1/2-2' wide, pointed or blunt, finely parallel-nerved. Scape stout, bracted below, the bracts lanceolate, acute or acuminate, membranous; raceme dense, 1-3' long in flower, becoming 4'-7' long in fruit; perianth-segments about 3" long, equalling or rather longer than the stout pedicels; capsules about 3" long, the valves papery; seeds 1 1/2"-2" long.
In bogs northern New Jersey, southern New York and eastern Pennsylvania to North Carolina. Local. The scape sometimes bears a few leaves at its base. April-May. Stud-flower. Not definitely known to grow wild in Pennsylvania at the present time.