IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This native shrub is 3-9' tall, sending up multiple woody stems from the base. These woody stems are often recurved and frequently divide into smaller stems. The bark of the lower stems is dark brown to dull orange, eventually shredding into thin strips or broad sheets. Young stems are light green to slightly reddish and hairless. The alternate leaves are up to 5" long and 4" across; they are oval to ovate in overall shape, but often divided into 3-5 shallow lobes. The leaf margins are coarsely crenate-dentate. The base of each leaf is slightly cordate, truncate, or rounded. The upper leaf surface is medium to dark green, while the lower leaf surface is light green; both surfaces are hairless (occasionally the lower surface may have a few sparse hairs). At the base of each leaf is a slender hairless petiole about ½–1" long; it is light green to slightly reddish. At the base of each petiole, there is a pair of small linear stipules. Young stems often terminate in round clusters of flowers about 2-3" across. Each of these flowers spans up to ½" across; it has 5 white petals, a light green calyx with 5 teeth, 5 styles, and 30-40 stamens. The pedicels of the flowers are rather long, light green, and slender. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer and lasts about 2-3 weeks. Later in the summer, the flower clusters are replaced by drooping greenish-red fruits (typically 2-5 adjacent fruits per flower). Each fruit is about 1/3" in length and angular-ovoid in shape with a slender beak originating from one side. The fruit surface is inflated and membranous; var. opulifolius has a glabrous surface, while var. intermedius has a hairy surface. The interior of each fruit is seedy and dry. This shrub reproduces by reseeding itself. Cultivation


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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