IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This perennial plant develops basal leaves and flowering stalks from a crown. The basal leaves are trifoliate. Individual leaflets are 1-2½" long, ¾-2" across, and sessile; they are ovate to obovate in shape and their margins are coarsely serrated. The upper leaflet surface is medium green and glabrous to sparsely short-hairy, while the lower leaflet surface is pale green and sparsely short-hairy to hairy. In particular, hairs tend to be especially common along the lower sides of the major veins. Leaflet venation is pinnate; the lateral veins are nearly straight and parallel to each other. The texture of the leaflets is somewhat thick and stiff, rather than thin and flexible. The petioles of the basal leaves are 2-6" long, terete, and light green to reddish purple; they are covered with spreading hairs. The flowering stalks are 3-8" long; they usually extend a little below the leaflets or a little above them. These stalks are light green to reddish purple and terete; they are covered with spreading hairs. At the apex of each stalk, there develops a branching cluster of about 2-5 flowers. Each flower is about ½" across, consisting of 5 white petals, a calyx with 5 green sepals that are joined together at the base, a dense cluster of light green to pale yellow pistils, and a ring of 20-35 stamens with yellow anthers. The peduncle and pedicels of the flowers are light green or light reddish green and covered with appressed hairs. One or two small leafy bracts are located at the base of inflorescence. The blooming period occurs from late spring to mid-summer, lasting 1-2 months. Afterwards, fertile flowers are replaced by small fruits that become a little less than ½" long at maturity (typically 8-10 mm. in length); they are bright red, glabrous, and ovoid to ovoid-conical in shape (although they typically hang upside down). Numerous reddish achenes are scattered across the surface of the fruit; they are not sunken below the surface in pits. Some cultivars of this plant produce white mature fruits, rather than red. The fleshy interior of the fruit varies in flavor, depending on the cultivar, but it is often bland. At the base of each fruit, the sepals of the persistent calyx are either spreading or reflexed; they do not adhere to the surface of the fruit. The root system consists of a dense vertical crown with fibrous roots. Occasionally during the summer, low stolons up to 1' or more in length are produced from the crown. Where the nodes of the stolons touch moist ground, they can produce new plantlets. It should be noted, however, that some cultivars of this plant don't produce any stolons. Most of the foliage dies down during the winter, although a few low leaves may persist near the crown.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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