Conopholis americana

Scientific Name: Conopholis americana
Common Name: American cancer-root
Global Conservation Status: G5 - Secure

Fingers of low-growing cream or yellow-colored American cancer-root (under 8 inches/ 20 cm tall) turn brown (then black) with age.
Photographer: Fritz Flohr Reynolds

Find out more on NatureServe Explorer

Search for photos of this species within the NatureServe Flickr photo stream.


This curious-looking plant cannot produce energy from the sun, so "borrows" nutrients from the roots of oak trees (and does not repay). That makes it right at home on deeply shaded forest floors in the eastern U.S. It is commonly found where soils are relatively nutrient-rich and deep.

Its appearance is a little bit like a cluster of long pine cones, especially late in the year when it has turned brown. In spite of its name, it has no known cancer-fighting properties.