Rhizomes producing fleshy roots, and 2-8 cordlike branches at apex, cordlike portion 2-3 dm × 1-2 mm, gradually enlarging to 8-12 mm diam., nodes with brown, scalelike leaves and rarely roots. Stems simple, 2.5-4.5 cm. Leaves: basal 6-8, proximal 2-3 sheathing, blade light brown with darker brown line along midrib at base, falcate, scarious, distal 4-5 not sheathing, blade green or yellowish green, with few, subprominent veins, broadly ensiform, slightly falcate, to 1.5 dm × 1-2.5 cm, enlarging to 4 dm after anthesis; cauline 2-3, sheathing, proximal very similar to basal leaves, distal 1 or 2 reduced, herbaceous, blade falcate, not inflated. Inflorescence units 1-2-flowered; spathes green, sharply keeled, somewhat inflated, 2-6 cm, unequal, outer shorter than inner. Flowers: perianth blue, lilac-purple, or white; floral tube filiform, widening distally, 4-8 cm, lifting expanded portion of flower out of spathes; sepals spreading, with 3 parallel, toothed, crested ridges on white signal bordered with purple, tapering gradually into claw, 3-6 × 1.5-2.5 cm, base gradually attenuate, apex rounded, emarginate; petals spreading, same color as sepals, oblanceolate, 3-4 × 1-2 cm; ovary triangular, with shallow groove along each face, 0.6-1 cm; style 1.5 cm, crests narrowly triangular, 6-9 mm; stigmas oblong, margins entire; pedicel 0.7-1.8 cm. Capsules usually enclosed in spathes, oval, sharply triangular, each angle ridged, 1-1.5 cm. Seeds yellowish brown, 3.2-3.5 mm, smooth, with narrow, white appendage wrapped around seed, 3.4-4 mm, quickly drying upon exposure to air. 2n = 24, 32. Flowering Apr--Jul. Rich woods, ravines, bluffs, usually in calcareous soil; Ala., Ark., D.C., Ga., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Ky., Md., Miss., Mo., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Pa., S.C., Tenn., Va., W.Va.
Lvs broadly linear, usually somewhat curved-arching, light green, slightly glaucescent on one side, well developed at anthesis, 1-2 dm נ9-25 mm, later elongating slightly; spathe 1-2-fld, the valves rather loosely sheathing each other, the lower ones often spaced on a scape-like stalk; perianth-tube greenish, often streaked with purple or brown, 4-6 cm, much exceeding the spathe, the limb 6-8 cm wide, light violet to lilac or purple, rarely pale or white; sep with a strong, several-ridged, yellow or whitish crest bordered by a white zone outlined in violet or purple, not at all pubescent; pet spreading, oblanceolate, slightly emarginate or blunt, with broad claw; capsule ellipsoid, ovoid, or obovoid, sharply 3-angled, minutely beaked; seeds orange-brown, arillate; 2n=24, 32. Rich woods, banks, and cliffs, in acid soil; Md. to Okla. and Ga. Apr., May.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.