IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This perennial plant produces 2-3 basal leaves during the spring. These leaves are typically 6-9" long and ¾-1½" across; they are linear-oblong or elliptic-oblong in shape with smooth margins and parallel venation. The leaf surfaces are pale green to medium green and glabrous. Leaf orientation is erect, ascending, or arched and sprawling. The petioles are very short and often hidden by ground litter; they are pale green and glabrous. By early summer, the basal leaves wither away. After a short dormant period, an erect flowering stalk is produced that is 6-20" tall. This stalk is pale green, glabrous, terete, unbranched, and naked (devoid of leaves); it is surrounded by a membranous sheath at its base. At the apex of this stalk, there is a rounded umbel of 10-20 flowers about ¾-1½" across. At the base of this umbel, there is a pair of small deciduous bracts. Each flower spans up to ¼" across, consisting of 6 white to greenish white tepals, 6 stamens, and a 3-lobed ovary with a single white style. The stamens are barely exerted above the tepals. The slender pedicels are light green to greenish white. The blooming period occurs from early to mid-summer for about 2-3 weeks. The flowers, like the foliage, have an onion-like scent. Afterwards, the flowers are replaced by 3-celled seed capsules; there is only a single seed per cell. The capsules divide into 3 sections to release their seeds. The seeds are globoid, black, and shiny. The root system consists of an ovoid bulb with fibrous roots below. Usually, this bulb is enclosed by a fibrous sheath with one or more other bulbs. Vegetative offsets from the production of new bulbs often occurs, resulting in dense colonies of plants.

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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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