Formerly frequent to common in rich woods throughout the state. From the earliest times it was dug for its large roots which were shipped mostly to China for use as a medicine. The earliest pioneers received 25 cents a pound for the dried roots. The fact that the price has steadily advanced, until it now sells for about 16 dollars a pound, has resulted nearly in its extinction.
Root elongate, fusiform; stem solitary, 2-6 dm, with 1-4(5) lvs; lfls (3)5(7), oblong-obovate to obovate, 6-15 cm, acuminate, conspicuously serrate, on long petiolules; peduncle 1-12 cm; fls greenish-white, all or mostly perfect; styles usually 2; fr bright red, 1 cm thick; 2n=44, 48. Rich woods; Que. to Minn. and S.D., s. to Ga., La., and Okla., now rare. June, July. Some individuals in some populations have fls with only one style, locule, and seed.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.