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Description

This native perennial plant produces basal leaves 4-9" long and 1½-3½" across on short petioles (usually 2-3 per bulb). The basal leaves are ovate-oval to ovate-elliptic, light to medium green, hairless, and smooth along the margins. Their petioles are reddish, hairless, and wrapped in a basal sheath below. These leaves develop during the spring and wither away by early summer. During early to mid-summer, there develops a naked flowering stalk about ½-1½' tall. This stalk is terete, glabrous, and reddish to pale green; at its base, there is a papery sheath. The stalk terminates in a single rounded umbel of flowers spanning 1-2" across; there are typically 20-40 flowers per umbel. At the base of this umbel, there is a pair of deciduous bracts. Each flower is about ¼" across, consisting of 6 white to translucent white tepals, a light green to pale yellow ovary, 6 stamens with pale yellow anthers, and a single white style. At the base of each flower, there is a slender pedicel that is white to greenish white. The blooming period occurs during the summer and lasts about 2 weeks. Both the flowers and foliage exude an onion-like odor. After the blooming period, the ovary of each flower matures into a 3-celled seed capsule; each cell contains a single globoid seed that becomes black at maturity. The root system consists of an ovoid bulb with fibrous roots at its base. Offsets often develop, producing vegetative colonies of plants. Cultivation

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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