Maine to Florida.
Flowers: growing in an umbel near the top of the stalk from under the leaves. Calyx: five-parted. Corolla: wheel-shaped, the border in divisions of five, fringed and incurved at the edges. Stamens: five. Pistil: one. Fruit: a capsule with numerous seeds. Leaves: growing on slender, long, twining petioles; ovate-orbicular; purplish beneath.
The floating-heart has never inspired the poets with any of the ardour that they have felt for members of the gentian family to which it is related; and yet it would seem as though its name alone should awaken some drowsy muse. It is true that the flower is far from being such a raving beauty as the fringed gentian; but it is very interesting. Its parts alternate in a systematic way that shows it understands good government. The petals alternate with the sepals and the stamens with the petals, while alternating with the stamens are five glands. These glands, it is supposed, were originally another set of stamens that have been absorbed at an early stage by the petals. The root-like tubers that start out near the flowers at the end of the petiole, show a similar form of reproduction as the strawberry does with its leafy shoots at the end of runners. At the approach of cold weather they detach themselves from the main plant and sink to the bottom of the pond, where they root in the mud. With the return of the spring they are thus ready to send above vigourous, renewed stock.