A perennial wildflower lacking chlorophyll and therefore white (sometimes pinkish). Usually grows in small clusters. Flowers arise singly on a white, scaly stem, urn-shaped, nodding, with 4 or 5 petals and no sepals. Flowers are white, turning purple and later black. As seeds ripen the wilted flower often turns upright. Blooms August–October. Leaves absent, replaced by scales on the floral stem.