Perennial herb with a short, slender rhizome stem 20 cm - 1 m tall Leaves: alternate, pierced by the stem (perfoliate), 6 - 13.5 cm long, 2 - 6.5 cm wide, broadly oval to oblong egg-shaped with a pointed tip, hairy-veined beneath. Usually only one leaf grows beneath the fork of the stem. Flowers: one to three per stem, terminal (but appearing axillary), nodding, golden yellow, narrowly bell-shaped, with six distinct tepals. Tepals over-lapping, 2.5 - 5 cm long, 3 - 10 mm wide, elongate, twisted, with a pointed tip. Flower stalk 1 - 2.5 cm long, with a single, fused bract. Stamens six, 1 - 2.5 cm long. Fruit: a three-lobed capsule, greenish to yellowish brown, 1 - 1.5 cm long, 1 - 2 cm wide, egg-shaped to pyramid-shaped. Seeds brownish red, nearly spherical. Stems: one to several, upright, forked above the middle, with sheathing bracts at the base.
Similar species: The perfoliate leaves distinguish this species and Uvularia perfoliata from U. sessilifolia. Uvularia perfoliata differs by having hairless leaf undersides and glands inside its pale yellow flowers.
Flowering: mid-April to late May
Habitat and ecology: Locally frequent in wet woods, often where it is calcareous and sloping. Especially common on northeast-facing wooded slopes near Lake Michigan in Indiana Dunes State Park.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Etymology: Uvularia comes from the word uvula (the soft lobe that dangles at the back of the throat) of which the drooping flowers resemble. Grandiflora means "with large flowers."
Stem 2-5 dm at anthesis, at maturity to 1 m, forking above, bearing (0)1(2) lvs below the fork, 4-8 on the sterile branch, and several lvs and 1-4 fls on the fertile branch; lvs perfoliate, broadly oval to oblong, to 12 cm, usually minutely hairy beneath; fls yellow, nodding; tep 2.5-5 cm, acute or acuminate, smooth within; 2n=14. Rich woods, preferring calcareous soil; Me. and s. Que. to Minn. and N.D., s. to Conn., Va., n. Ga., Ala., and Okla. Apr., May.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
Infrequent to frequent in moist, rich soil throughout the state. It is never found outside of thick woodland, unless persisting after woodland has been cleared, but does well in cultivation in sun or shade. This species has been confused by some of our early authors with Uvularia perfoliata, the range of which is shown by recent studies to be restricted to the Allegheny Mountains and eastward to the Coast.