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HomeSurvivalFoodEdible Plants

Indian Cucumber Root

(Medeola virginiana)

 
Other common names: Indian Cucumber

Family: Lily Family (Liliaceae)

Distinctive features: Whorls of leaves. Yellow flowers hanging down.

Similar species:

  • Starflower - has small white flowers, not hanging down (see the bottom of this page)
  • Whorled Pogonia - poisonous, but root is different

Height: 1-2 feet tall.

Flowers: Yellow, small, hanging down. Usually only a few per plant.

Leaves: Simple (smooth-edged), in one or more whorls.

Stem: Weak and thin.

Habitat: Indian Cucumber Root grows in open woods and forest. It doesn't like a lot of light, but neither does it like to grow in deep shady woods.

Longevity: Perennial

Comments: The tubers (roots) are edible raw. They taste somewhat like cucumber. It's not overly common, so please only harvest it where it is plenty.

The information on this page has been taken from my Ontario Wildflowers website.

Here's two photos of the overall plant:

  

Here's what a "grove" of the plants looks like. They are often found in clumps like this; it is not usual to find a single plant.

Indian Cucumber Root normally grows to about 8-16" tall.

 

  

The yellow flowers. They normally hang down, as in the next photo, but when they first start to bloom, the flowers are still pointing somewhat up.

  

Note how the flowers are now hanging down. This is their normal posture.

  

Unopened flowers as seen from the top.

 

 

  

The edible part: the roots. They may be eaten raw or cooked like root vegetables. They don't require very much cooking.

Note how small they are.

Eaten raw, they have a very fresh taste, like a very refined cucumber.

 

  

Here is a photo of a complete plant.

The tuberous root is at the lower left, the top of the plant is at the upper right.

Note that this plant has grown crooked. Normally the stalk is straight.


Similar plants:
  
Starflower: has similar leaves, but only one "level" of leaves -- Indian Cucumber Root usually has two levels of leaves, each in a whorl. Also, Starflower has small white flowers that don't hang down. The veins on the leaves have a different pattern in the two species.
It is not edible.