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Description

This perennial wildflower is 1-2½' tall, consisting of an erect unbranched stem and 1-2 whorls of leaves. Plants without flowers produce only a single whorl of leaves, while flowering plants produce 2 whorls of leaves. The central stem is medium green, terete, and woolly-pubescent to glabrous; it becomes more glabrous with age. In a flowering plant, the lower whorl of leaves occurs near the middle of the central stem; this whorl has 5-10 leaves that are 2½-5" long and ½-2" across. The upper whorl of leaves occurs underneath the inflorescence; this whorl has 3-5 leaves that are 2-4" long and ½-2" across. All of these leaves are elliptic to ovate in shape, smooth along their margins, and sessile. The upper leaf surface is medium green and glabrous, while the lower surface is pale green. Individual leaves have 3-5 parallel primary veins and a fine network of secondary veins. The inflorescence consists of a sessile umbel of 3-9 flowers on pedicels about 1" long. These flowers are held either a little above or below the leaves when they are in bloom. Individual flowers are about 2/3" (15 mm.) across, consisting of 6 yellowish green tepals, 6 stamens, a 3-celled ovary, and 3 reddish purple to brown stigmata. The tepals are lanceolate in shape and recurved. The stigmata are large in size and recurved, spanning the width of each flower. The pedicels are light green and glabrous. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer, lasting about 1 month. Afterwards, the pedicels become more erect, holding the developing berries above the upper whorl of leaves. At maturity, these berries are dark purple, globoid, and about 1/4" to 1/3"  (6-8 mm.) across. Each berry contains several seeds. The root system consists of a thick rhizome with fibrous roots. Small colonies of plants can develop from the rhizomes.

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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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