Comprehensive Description

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This native perennial plant is about 1½–2' tall; it consists of a central stalk with 3 spreading terminal leaves. The stalk is light green and hairless. The leaves are up to 6½" long and across; they are broadly obovate or broadly rhombic-oval, smooth along the margins, and hairless. The base of each leaf is wedge-shaped, while the terminal end tapers to a blunt tip. The major veins of each leaf are parallel; there are also branching side veins. A mature plant produces a single flower on a nodding peduncle about 1–2½" long. This flower is about 2" across, consisting of 3 white spreading petals, 3 green sepals, 6 stamens (anthers & filaments), and a creamy central ovary. The pale yellow anthers are twice as long as their filaments. At the tip of the ovary, there are 3 recurved stigmas. Only rarely are the petals of the flowers brownish purple. The flower hangs from its peduncle a little above or a little below the leaves. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late spring. The seed capsule that replaces the flower is 6-angled; it splits open at maturity to release the seeds. The foliage withers away during the summer. The vertical central root is slightly swollen near the base of the plant; it branches into secondary fibrous roots. Small vegetative colonies are occasionally produced from spreading rhizomes.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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