IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This native perennial wildflower is 2-8" tall. An infertile shoot usually consists of a single basal leaf, while a fertile shoot consists of a flowering stalk with 2 alternate leaves (less often, there are 3 leaves). Both basal and alternate leaves are similar in appearance, although the former have petioles up to 2" long. The leaves are up to 3" long and 2" across, smooth and slightly ciliate along their margins, and ovate-oblong to oval in shape. Leaf venation is parallel. The upper leaf surface is medium green and glabrous, while the lower surface is pale green and finely pubescent. Unlike var. interius, the typical variety of Canada Mayflower has leaves without hairs. The base of each alternate leaf is clasping, sessile, or short-petioled. The central stalk is medium green, terete, hairless, and rather stout. At the apex of each flowering stalk, there is a short-cylindrical raceme of flowers about 1-2" long. The flowers typically occur in pairs along the raceme on slender pedicels. Individual flowers have 4 white tepals, 4 stamens with white filaments and pale yellow anthers, and a white to greenish white pistil with a pair of knobby stigmata. The tepals are lanceolate and strongly recurved, fully exposing the reproductive organs. Each flower is a little less than ¼" across. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer. The flowers are fragrant. During the summer, fertile flowers are replaced by globoid berries that are individually a little less than ¼" across. At maturity, these berries are speckled pale red, and each berry typically contains 2 seeds. The root system is rhizomatous and fibrous. Vegetative colonies are often formed via the rhizomes. In a typical colony, infertile shoots usually outnumber flowering fertile shoots.


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers


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