Rhizomes cylindrical. Leaves spreading, semisucculent, 8-40(-47) × 0.5-6.5(-9.3) cm; blade usually spotted or speckled with maroon, shallowly channeled, oblanceolate to linear-lanceolate, margins entire or with cartilaginous prickles. Scape 4.5 ´ 13.8 dm. Inflorescences 14-68 cm, bearing 10-61 closely spaced flowers. Flowers sessile or pedicellate, nearly erect, slender, with sweet, fruity odor; tepals green; perianth tube 0.9-2.3 × 0.3-0.6 cm; limb lobes erect, 0.4-0.8 cm; filaments inserted near base of tube, bent in bud, exceeding tube by 1.2-3.1 cm; ovary 4-10 mm; style shorter than stamens, exceeding tube by 0.6-2.3 cm; stigma white, 3-lobed, lobes reflexed. Capsules globose, 1-1.7 cm diam. 2n = 60. Flowering summer--late summer, rarely in spring; fruiting late summer--early fall. Glades and open woods, on rocky and sandy soils, often on slopes; 0--600 m; Ala., Ark., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Ky., La., Miss., Mo., N.C., Ohio, Okla., S.C., Tenn., Tex., Va., W.Va.; Mexico (Nuevo León, Tamaulipas). Leaf shape and size in Manfreda virginica vary with soil type, amount of shade, length of cold period, and position of leaf in the rosette. Speckles and spots occur frequently on some leaves in most populations, and some authors have used the informal designation 'forma tigrina' for such variants. Pollination is primarily by sphinx moths (S. E. Verhoek 1978).
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
Local but rather frequent in southern Indiana. It is generally found only in soil of low fertility in open places on the crests and spurs of post oak and black oak ridges. It is frequent also in the post oak flats of the southwestern part of Posey County. The plants are usually 3-5 feet high and not branched. It is perfectly hardy at Bluffton and does well in black loam soil. In 1932 we had one plant that was 6.4 feet high and that had a long, flowering branch at almost every node, eight branches in all. Ralph M. Kriebel found a large colony on top of a limestone bluff along White River about a mile below Tunnelton in Lawrence County, which had by actual count about 2000 individuals. Outside the range shown on the map it has been reported from Daviess, Jefferson, and Scott Counties.
Lvs in a basal rosette, lanceolate or oblanceolate, to 4 dm נ5 cm, acuminate, entire or denticulate; scape 1-2 m, bracteate, bearing a loose slender spike 2-5 dm; perianth erect or nearly so, greenish-white, tubular, 2-3 cm, the erect, narrow, triangular lobes half as long as the tube; fr subglobose. Dry sterile soil; N.C. to s. O. and s. Mo., s. to Fla. and Tex. June, July. (Manfreda v.; M. tigrina)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.