IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

From late fall to spring, this native perennial wildflower exists as a small basal rosette of leaves spanning up to 4½" across. As warmer weather arrives, it bolts, developing one or more flowering stems that are 1-3' long. These stems can be erect, ascending, or sprawling; they are sparingly branched, slender, light green, terete, and glabrous. Alternate leaves along the stems are about 1½–3" long and 1/8–1/4" across; they are linear-lanceolate or narrowly elliptic, medium green, glabrous, and sessile. The leaf margins are either rolled inward and smooth or shallowly and sparingly toothed. Each alternate leaf has a single central vein that is prominent. The central stem (and any lateral stems) terminates in a rather airy panicle of flowerheads about 6-9" long and a little less across. Generally, the flowerheads are more or less erect in relation to the panicle, which often leans sideways to some extent; the flowerheads are not secund (always facing upward away from the ground). The ascending branches of the panicle are slender, light green, and glabrous. Individual flowerheads develop from terminal branches that are usually ½" or more in length. Several small leafy bracts occur along the terminal branches; these bracts are linear in shape and less than ¼" in length. Larger leafy bracts can occur on non-terminal branches. Each flowerhead is about ½" across, consisting of 15-25 white ray florets and 10-20 yellow disk florets; the disk florets later become reddish purple. At the base of each flowerhead, there are small appressed floral bracts in 3-5 series that surround the involucre; this involucre is 3-6 mm. long. The floral bracts have dark green tips, otherwise they are light green; these dark green tips are rhombic-obovate or rhombic-oblanceolate in shape. The blooming period occurs from late summer to early fall and lasts about 1 month. The florets are replaced by small achenes with sessile tufts of white hair, which are distributed by the wind. Individual achenes are bullet-shaped with 3-5 prominent ribs and they are pale pink to straw-colored. The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous; on an older plant, a small caudex may develop. Vegetative offsets are sometimes formed by the rhizomes.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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