Conopholis americana

Common Names: Squawroot, American cancer-root, bear corn
Category: Plants
Sub-category: Broomrape family

A non-photosynthesizing parasitic plant which is found growing from the roots of mostly oak and beech trees. The plant is a yellowish color, turning to brown and achieves heights of 4 inches to 8 inches tall. Stout and unbranched 0.5 inches to 1 inch thick stems. Since it does not photosynthesize it also does not have true leaves; it has instead simple, ovate, tiny scales 0.5 inches long and brown, which appear underneath each flower. Produces spikes of yellow to cream flowers densely crowded all around the stem. Each flower is 5-parted, 0.3 inches to 0.5 inches long, tubular with a swollen base and facing downwards. As the flowering spike matures and begins to wither and becomes brown throughout the summer and often persisting through the winter, by which time it has become shriveled and black. There is no noticeable floral scent. Each flower is replaced by a seed capsule that is longer than it is wide and contains many small seeds.

Found growing on roots in wooded ravines.

Primary Flower Color: Yellow
Secondary Flower Color: White
Edible Notes: The reports on the edibility of Conopholis americana are fairly mixed, however the most common reports indicate that it is not likely toxic, that it has a very bitter and unpleasant taste when raw, but may improve some after cooking. The general recommendation is to avoid this one, due to the unpleasant taste and lack of information.
Warnings: Not known to be dangerous.