IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This native annual plant is about 1-3' long and unbranched, except where the flowers occur. It has a weak central stem with whorls of 6-8 leaves that are rather widely separated from each other. Both the central stem and leaves have stiff hairs that point downward; this enables the plant to cling to adjacent vegetation for support. The central stem is 4-angled and furrowed. Short secondary stems often develop from the upper half of the central stem; they terminate in small cymes of flowers. The leaves are up to 3" long and ¼" across. They are linear-oblong, smooth along the margins (except for stiff hairs), and sessile. Each leaf has a single central vein along its length. Above the upper whorls of leaves, single flowers and/or small cymes of 2-3 flowers are produced. Sometimes panicles of cymes are produced, although the total number of flowers remains small. At the base of each cyme, there are 1-4 secondary leaves (or leafy bracts); they are smaller than the whorled leaves of the central stem. Each flower is about 1/8" across. It consists of 4 white petals with pointed tips, 4 stamens, 2 styles, and a pair of green carpels that are joined together at the base of the flower. The sepals are tiny and insignificant. The carpels are covered with stiff hooked hairs and have a bur-like appearance; together, they are about ¼" across when fully developed. The blooming period occurs from late spring to mid-summer and lasts about 1-2 months. After the petals fall off, the carpels eventually turn brown. Each carpel contains a single greyish brown seed that is notched on one side. The root system is branching and shallow. This plant spreads by reseeding itself. Cultivation


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers


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