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This native perennial plant consists of a rosette of basal leaves about 1' tall. The basal leaves are up to 7" long and 4" across (excluding the long petioles), and they are oval to ovate in shape. Their margins are smooth, while both the upper and lower surfaces are devoid of hairs. The leaf venation is parallel primarily, although there are secondary veins that radiate laterally to provide a slightly wrinkly appearance to the upper surface. The texture of these leaves is rather thick and fleshy. From the center of the rosette, a large whorled panicle of flowers develops during the summer that is up to 3' tall. This inflorescence is heavily branched and more or less erect. The green flowering stalks are hairless, and sometimes angular or finely ribbed along their length. At the base of each group of whorled branchlets, there are 3 deciduous green bracts that are lanceolate with elongated pointed tips.  The small flowers are individually about ¼" across. Each flower consists of 3 white petals, 3 green sepals, and 6 stamens. There is a small patch of yellow at the base of each petal, while the center of the flower is green. For this species of water plantain, the petals are about 50% longer than the sepals. The blooming period usually occurs during mid-summer and lasts about a month. Each flower is replaced by a flat whorl of seeds (technically, they are achenes). Each flat-sided seed is longer than broad, with a tiny beak at the top. The seeds are probably distributed by the movement of water. The root system consists of a cluster of shallow fibrous roots and rhizomes. This plant often forms colonies. Cultivation


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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