This native perennial plant is up to 3½' tall, consisting of a rosette of basal leaves and one or more flowering stalks. The leaves have blades that are up to 16" long and 10" across, but they are usually closer to half this size. The leaf blades are sagittate and smooth along the margins; they have conspicuous parallel veins. The petioles of the leaves are up to 2' long and rather stout; they broaden toward the base and become sheath-like. There is considerable variability in the width of the leaf blades and the length of their basal lobes. The flowering stalks are about as tall as the leaves or slightly taller and more or less erect. They are terete (finely ribbed) and become more stout toward the base of the plant. Both the leaves and flowering stalks are glabrous and contain a milky sap. Each of these stalks terminates in whorls of 2-3 flowers. Most plants are monoecious, with staminate flowers located on the upper portion of each stalk, while the pistillate flowers are located below. Occasionally, dioecious plants occur, and sometimes perfect flowers are produced. Each flower is about 1" across or slighter broader, consisting of 3 white petals and 3 green sepals. The staminate flowers have numerous stamens that are golden yellow, while the pistillate flowers have multiple carpels that are green and form a bur-like mass. The petals are rather broad and well-rounded; their upper surface has a satiny lustre. The filaments of the stamens have a smooth surface.The pedicel of each flower is up to 1" long. At the base of each whorl of flowers, there are 2-3 green bracts that are linear-lanceolate. The blooming period occurs from mid-summer to early fall and lasts about 1 month. Each achene is flattened, 3-angled, and winged; it has a straight beak that projects laterally from the center of the bur-like fruit. The root system consists of a tuft of coarse roots, which often develop starchy tubers; long rhizomes or stolons are also produced. Reproduction is by seeds or rhizomes/stolons. This plant occasionally forms colonies.