Indian Cucumber (Medeola virginiana)

Identification: Perennial; 1 to 3 feet in height. Several nodding, yellowish-green flowers emerge from the center of a whorl of 3 leaves at the top of a slender, woolly, unbranched stem, on stalks that sometimes bend down below the leaves. Indian Cucumber Flower
Flowers: 1/2 inch long; 3 recurved petals and 3 recurved petal-like sepals; stamens 6, reddish; ovary with 3 long, brownish, recurved stigmas. Leaves: in 2 whorls: those atop stem are 1 to 3 inches long; midway down the stem is another whorl of 6 to 10 leaves, 2-1/2 to 5 inches long. All ovate to lanceolate. Fruit: Dark bluish-purple berry. Root: The root, 2 to 3 inches long and 1/2 to 1 inches wide is white, has a brittle texture, and tastes and smells somewhat like a cucumber.

Family: Liliaceaea (Lily family)

Flowers: May – June.

Habitat: Moist woodlands. Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia; south to Florida; west to Alabama and Louisiana; north to Minnesota.

Parts Used: Root, leaves, fruit.

Uses: Cucumber-flavored root is crisp, edible. American Indians chewed root and spit it on hook to make fish bite. Leaf and berry tea administered to babies with convulsions. Root tea once used as a diuretic for dropsy. It was used by Indians for food, but digging it for such purposes today is not recommended because the plant is scarce.

Leave a Reply