IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This herbaceous plant is 1-2½' tall with an ascending leafy stem that is unbranched. The central stem is light to medium green, slightly zigzag, and glabrous to short-pubescent. Alternate leaves occur along this stem that are 2-5" long and 1-2½" long; they are broadly elliptic in shape, smooth (entire) along their margins, and sessile. The upper leaf surface is medium to dark green and glabrous, while the lower leaf surface is pale to medium green and finely short-hairy along the major veins (a 10x hand lens may be required to see this). Leaf venation is parallel with 3-7 prominent veins. Flowers are produced individually or in groups of 2-3 from the axils of most leaves; they are suspended below the leaves on short peduncles and pedicels. Each flower is 8-14 mm. in length and narrowly cylindrical in shape, consisting of 6 pale greenish yellow to greenish white tepals, 6 inserted stamens, and a 3-celled ovary with a single style. Around the outer rim of each flower, there are 6 straight to slightly recurved lobes about 2-3 mm. in length. The filaments of the stamens are minutely warty and terete. The peduncles and pedicels are light green, slender, and glabrous; they are about ¼-½" in length during the blooming period, but become about ½-1" in length when berries are produced. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late spring, lasting about 3 weeks. During the summer, the flowers are replaced by berries. At maturity, these berries are dark blue-violet to black, globoid in shape, and often glaucous; they are 6-9 mm. across. The interior of these berries is fleshy with several seeds. Individual seeds are 1.5-3.0 mm. long, globoid in shape, and either tan or straw-colored. The root system has knotty rhizomes up to ½" thick. Small clonal colonies are often produced from these rhizomes.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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