A semi-herbaceous plant forming low masses, with stems 6 to 12 in. high, springing unbranched from a root-stock, downy, bearing the leaves in a cluster at the top. Leaves broadly ovate, obovate, or somewhat rhomboidal; 2 to 31⁄2 in. long, often almost as wide, the upper part usually very coarsely toothed, the lower part entire and tapering to a stalk 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. long. The lower leaves are the largest and longest stalked; all are furnished with minute, scattered hairs. The unisexual flowers are borne at the base of the stem (between the flowers and the leaves the stem is bare), crowded on several erect, cylindrical spikes 2 to 4 in. high; female flowers few, and confined to the base. The most conspicuous part of the spike is the stamens, with their pale, flattened stalk 1⁄3 in. long; the sepals are greenish or purplish. Bot. Mag., t. 1964.
Native of the south-eastern United States from Virginia and Kentucky southwards; introduced in 1800. It grows vigorously in sheltered shady places. The inflorescence is formed in autumn, and expands in spring. Flowers unpleasantly scented.