IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This native annual or biennial wildflower develops ascending to sprawling stems about 1½–3' long. The stems are light green to reddish green and pubescent with short spreading hairs. Either opposite or alternate leaves occur at intervals along the stems; the leaf blades are up to 3" long and 3" across and deeply cleft into 3-5 palmate lobes. The leaf margins are sparingly dentate or further divided into small secondary lobes. The upper leaf surfaces are medium green and hairless (or sparingly so), while the their lower surfaces are pale green and pubescent. The petioles are light green and pubescent. At the base of each petiole, there is a pair of small linear stipules. From the axils of the middle to upper leaves, clusters of 2 or more flowers develop on slender pubescent stalks; these stalks are about ¾–1½" long at maturity. Each flower is about 1/3" across, consisting of 5 light pink petals, 5 green sepals, 10 stamens, and a pistil. Fine pink lines radiate from the throat of each flower. The petals are oblong in shape and slightly notched at their tips. The sepals are lanceolate to ovate and pubescent; each sepal has an awn-like tip about 1.5 mm. long. The blooming period occurs during the summer and lasts about 2 months. Usually, only a few flowers are in bloom at the same time. Each flower is replaced by a narrow columnar fruit about ½–¾" long that tapers to a short beak. At maturity, the fruit splits open into 5 slender sections from the bottom, remaining connected together at the apex. By this process, the seeds are mechanically ejected from the mother plant.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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