If you are not acquainted with these curious, leafless parasites, you will very likely walk over many of them without suspecting they are really anything but small, dead twigs. They are invariably found in beech woods, where they attach their roots to those of the beech tree, and so flourish at its expense. They grow from six to twenty inches or more in height, from a thick, scaly base. The roots are brittle and fibrous. The slender, smooth, branching stalk is stiff and tough, and is purplish, brownish or yellowish in colour. They have no leaves, but a few brownish bracts are scattered along the stalk. The flowers are of two kinds. The upper, or sterile ones are tubular, with notches at their opening. They are curved to one side, and contain four stamens and a pistil. The curving tip of the latter projects beyond the tube. These small flowers are striped with purple and white, and are scattered along the ascending branches. They emit a very unpleasant odour. The lower flowers are seed-bearing and, bud-like, they never open. Cancer-root is found from August to October, from New Brunswick to Florida, and west to Ontario, Michigan, Missouri, and Louisiana.