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The plants grow from 1 to 3½ feet high and have branching stems. The oval leaves are 2 to 5 inches long, broadest toward the base, and grow in an alternate pattern. Flowers are bell-shaped, pinkish or greenish, and hang from a slender stalk in the axil of the leaves. Ripe watermelon berries are very juicy and are usually light to deep red, although some varieties produce yellowish-white or orange berries. The shoots may be confused with two other lily family plants that may occasionally be found in similar habitats — false Solomon’s seal and false hellebore. The latter of these, false hellebore, is poisonous, so positive identification is necessary before using roots, stems, leaves or berries.
Streptopus species prefer cool, shady and damp growing conditions and can be found throughout the continental United States and Canada. Watermelon berries are common in Alaska along the coast from Southeast Alaska north to the central Yukon River area at Tanana Hot Springs and in damp wooded areas of Interior Alaska.