Flowers; small; clustered on short reflexed pedicels at the summit of the stem. Perianth; of six reflexed segments. Stamens; six, of deep, rich brown. Pistil: one with three recurved, long, brown stigmas. Leaves: in two sets of whorls; the lower set of seven to nine ovate-lanceolate, netted-veined leaves; the upper set of three to four smaller leaves. Stem: erect; and covered, as the leaves, with a cottony fuzz, apparently quite loose. Rootstock: thick; somewhat suggesting in taste and appearance a cucumber.
When Columbus discovered America and the Indians, he must also have discovered the cucumber-root. They are alike characteristic of the soil of North America. Like the primitive people it loves so well, the plant is a model of erectness and symmetry of form. It has also the Indian's love of seclusion and the silence of the forest.
Owing to its being possessed of medical properties, the generic name Medeola is after the sorceress Medea. She it was who mixed the portion for the sleepless dragon that guarded the golden fleece; and enabled Jason to carry it off, as well as Medea herself, in his wonderful ship the Argo. Little did she then suppose that a plant of a strange people would serve to recall the story.