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This native perennial wildflower consists of a low rosette of basal leaves up to 1½' across and a flowering stalk about 1½–2' tall. The floppy basal leaves are 6-12" long and 1/3" across; they are medium to dark green, linear in shape, parallel-veined, glabrous, and smooth along their margins. Along the underside of each basal leaf, there is a prominent mid-rib. The erect central stalk is slender, light to medium green, and glabrous; it terminates in a spike-like raceme of flowers that is several inches in length. Underneath the floral spike, there are usually 1-3 bracts along the stalk. These bracts are green, linear to linear-lanceolate in shape, and up to ¾" long. Each flower is ¾–1" across, consisting of 6 tepals, 6 stamens with bright yellow anthers, and a green central ovary with a slender style. The tepals are light blue-violet to nearly white; they are oblong in shape and spread widely from the center of the flower. Each tepal (petal or petal-like sepal) has 1-3 poorly defined veins along its length. At the base of each flower, there is a single linear bract up to ¾" long that is early-deciduous. The slender pedicel of each flower is about the same length as the bract. The flowers begin to bloom from the bottom of the raceme and continue to bloom upward toward the apex; each flower lasts only 2-3 days. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late spring and lasts about 2-3 weeks. Each fertilized flower is replaced by a 3-celled seed capsule that is about 1/3" in length and nearly as much across. Each seed capsule contains many small seeds that are black and shiny. The basal leaves turn yellow and wither away by mid-summer. The root system consists of a bulb with fibrous roots. This wildflower reproduces by reseeding itself.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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