Perennial herb with a short, slender rhizome stem 20 cm - 1 m tall Leaves: alternate, pierced by the stem (perfoliate), 6 - 13.5 cm long, 2 - 6.5 cm wide, broadly oval to oblong egg-shaped with a pointed tip, hairy-veined beneath. Usually only one leaf grows beneath the fork of the stem. Flowers: one to three per stem, terminal (but appearing axillary), nodding, golden yellow, narrowly bell-shaped, with six distinct tepals. Tepals over-lapping, 2.5 - 5 cm long, 3 - 10 mm wide, elongate, twisted, with a pointed tip. Flower stalk 1 - 2.5 cm long, with a single, fused bract. Stamens six, 1 - 2.5 cm long. Fruit: a three-lobed capsule, greenish to yellowish brown, 1 - 1.5 cm long, 1 - 2 cm wide, egg-shaped to pyramid-shaped. Seeds brownish red, nearly spherical. Stems: one to several, upright, forked above the middle, with sheathing bracts at the base.
Similar species: The perfoliate leaves distinguish this species and Uvularia perfoliata from U. sessilifolia. Uvularia perfoliata differs by having hairless leaf undersides and glands inside its pale yellow flowers.
Flowering: mid-April to late May
Habitat and ecology: Locally frequent in wet woods, often where it is calcareous and sloping. Especially common on northeast-facing wooded slopes near Lake Michigan in Indiana Dunes State Park.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Etymology: Uvularia comes from the word uvula (the soft lobe that dangles at the back of the throat) of which the drooping flowers resemble. Grandiflora means "with large flowers."
Stem 2-5 dm at anthesis, at maturity to 1 m, forking above, bearing (0)1(2) lvs below the fork, 4-8 on the sterile branch, and several lvs and 1-4 fls on the fertile branch; lvs perfoliate, broadly oval to oblong, to 12 cm, usually minutely hairy beneath; fls yellow, nodding; tep 2.5-5 cm, acute or acuminate, smooth within; 2n=14. Rich woods, preferring calcareous soil; Me. and s. Que. to Minn. and N.D., s. to Conn., Va., n. Ga., Ala., and Okla. Apr., May.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.