Memorywort is a single-stemmed, leafless plant. It can reach a maximum height of 30 cm. Its slender stem hooks downward at the top terminating with a highly modified pouchlike labellum in the shape of a heart. Ghost-faced Wort (memorialis facia), the rarest species of the genus memorialis, has been known to exhibit the facial image of the recently deceased upon its heart-shaped blossom.
Memorywort can be found in cemeteries around the world, most commonly appearing near the headstones of the newly interred. Indifferent to seasonal climate, memorywort has been known to sprout even in the dead of winter.
Memorywort grows spontaneously, sprouting from the soil atop freshly dug graves, nourished by the tears of the attending party. Memorywort has no known root system and its entire growth cycle has been estimated to last several seconds. It leaves no residual plant matter and appears to vanish into thin air. However, witnesses to its appearance have professed to walk away from their encounter with a residual sense of comfort.
Memorywort was discovered by famed botanist, William Edmund Wilcox, who, after the death of his wife, Evangeline, of forty years, was treated to an appearance of the elusive flower on the evening of September 12, 1891 while visiting her gravesite at All Saints Cemetery in Wilmington, Delaware. Although initially comforted by the appearance of his wife’s peaceful expression on the flower’s heart-shaped labellum, Wilcox feared for his sanity and nearly committed himself to the State Hospital in Farnhurst. On the eve of his committal, however, he revisited his wife’s grave to bid her farewell, and in an outpouring of grief and tears, the flower once again bloomed, although this time without the rare facial imprint. Wilcox dedicated the remainder of his life to confirming the flower’s existence, documenting over a thousand cases and several varieties of the species worldwide.