Medeola virginiana

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: Indian cucumber root
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Liliaceae
Native Range: Eastern North America
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Greenish yellow
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Wet Soil

Culture

Grow in moist to wet soils in part shade to full shade.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Indian cucumber root is a slender, upright perennial that typically grows 1-2’ tall on a single, unbranched stem rising up each year from a crisp, edible rhizome. It is native to rich moist woodlands in eastern North America. Although originally native to Missouri, this plant may no longer reside in the wild there. Mature flowering plants feature two separate whorls of lanceolate to ovate leaves, the larger whorl of 5-9 leaves (to 5” long) is near the middle of the plant stem and a second smaller whorl of 3 leaves (to 3” long) is at the top. Greenish yellow flowers (1/2”) bloom in May-June as they droop from the axil of the upper leaf whorl. Dark purple berries (inedible) ripen in September. Non-flowering plants produce a stem with a terminal whorl of leaves, but the stem does not proceed upward to form the second whorl. Plant foliage may acquire attractive purple tints in autumn. The thickened rootstalk of this plant may be eaten raw, resembling somewhat the taste of cucumber. It may also be used in salads. Although Native Americans used the rootstalk for food, this is no longer recommended because plants are becoming quite scarce in many regions.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Best grown in moist soils in shady woodland areas. Also appropriate for moist areas in bog gardens, water gardens, water margins or low spots. Native plant gardens.