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..
Erect glabrous bulbous herbs, with leafy stems and small white or greenish, polygamous flowers in an ample terminal penicle. Leaves narrowly linear, keeled. Perianth-segments narrowly lanceolate, acuminate, glandless, spreading, persistent, adnate to the base of the ovary. Stamens shorter than the perianth-segments, inserted on their bases; anthers small, cordate or reniform. Ovary ovoid. Capsule ovoid-oblong, 3-lobed, finally dehiscent to the base, the lobes with short slightly divergent beaks. Seeds about 4 in each cavity, oblong, angled, somewhat flattened. [Greek, in allusion to the narrow perianth-segments.]
The genus comprises only the two following species of which the first is the type.
Leaves 2"-3" wide; capsule reflexed.
Leaves 3"-10" wide; capsule erect.
Helonias graminea Ker, Bot. Mag. pl. 1599. 1813.
Stenanthium angustifolium Kunth, Enura. 4: 190. 1843.
Stenanthium gramineum Morong, Mem. Torr. Club 5: no. 1894.
Stem slender, 3°-4° tall. Leaves grass-like, some of them often 1° long or more, 2"-3" wide, the upper, reduced to small linear lanceolate bracts subtending the branches of the panicle; panicle open, simple or somewhat compound, 1°-2° long, its branches nearly filiform, often flexuous, spreading or drooping; bracts 1/2"-1" long, equalling or longer than the pedicels; flowers 4"-6" broad; perianth-segments linear-lanceolate; capsule ovoid-oblong, with a top-shaped base, 3"-4" long, reflexed.
In dry soil, Virginia to Kentucky, Missouri, Florida and Alabama. Ascends to 6000 ft. in North Carolina. Fruit apparently scarce. Aug.-Sept.
Stems stout, 3°-5° tall, usually very leafy. Leaves often 1° long or more, the lower 4"-10" wide, the upper reduced to bracts; panicle denser than that of the preceding species, commonly longer, usually compound, its branches spreading or ascending; flowers greenish or white, 6"-8" broad; capsule ovoid-oblong, 4"-6" long, erect, longer than its pedicel, the very short beaks recurved-spreading.
In moist soil, Pennsylvania and Ohio to South Carolina, Tennesee and Missouri. July-Sept. Apparently distinct from the preceding species, though closely related.