IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This is an annual native plant from 3-18" tall that is low and spreading, but not prostrate. The stems are pinkish red, round, and hairless, except for a few fine hairs on new growth. The opposite leaves are up to 2" long and ¾" across. They are oblong, with short petioles and margins that are smooth or irregularly serrate. The lower surface of each leaf is light green, while the upper surface may have a red blotch in the middle. A few fine hairs may occur near the base of each leaf. The inflorescence consists of a small cyathium on a straight pedicel. Usually, several cyathia develop near the ends of each major stem when a plant is mature. A cyathium is a small cup-like structure containing the pistillate flower and one or more staminate flowers, which have neither true petals nor sepals. It is initially green, but often turns red in bright sunlight. On this particular species, the cyathium has 4 tiny petal-like appendages that are bright white. Eventually, a round tripartite fruit develops from the cyathium on a short stalk; it often turns red in bright sunlight as well. This fruit is noticeably larger than the flowers. The blooming period is mid-summer to fall, and lasts about 1-2 months. There is no noticeable floral scent. The root system consists of a central taproot.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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