Isotria verticillata is a perennial monocotyledon herb from fleshy roots, colonial, stems 20-40 cm tall.
Leaves 5, 3-8 cm long, in one whorl, on upper stem below flower, oblong.
Flower greenish-brown to purplish, with conspicuous lines, fragrant, bilaterally symmetrical, thin, spidery-appearing, sepals 3, linear-elongate, 3.5-6.5 cm long, lateral petals wider, 1.5-2.5 cm long, lip about 2 cm, 3-lobed, margin of middle lobe ragged, ovary inferior, elongate, stamen fused to style, pollen in 2 clumps (pollinia); flowering stalk 2-5 cm above leaves; blooms May-June.
Fruit: a dry capsule, opening by slits, seeds minute, innumerable, dust-like.
Wetland status: FACU.
Frequency in NYC: Very infrequent.
Habitat: Forest understory, acid soil.
Notes: One colony on Staten Island destroyed by development ca 1998.