IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This perennial wildflower consists of a small rosette of basal leaves about 3-8" across, persisting from autumn to spring. These basal leaves are semi-evergreen, ¾-2½" long, and ½-2" across; they are oval-cordate in shape and their margins are crenate-serrate. The upper surfaces of basal leaves are medium green and sparsely to moderately short-pubescent, while their lower surfaces are light green and moderately to densely short-pubescent. Exposure to near-freezing temperatures sometimes causes the basal leaves to turn purple. The petioles of basal leaves are up to 2" long, slender, and short-pubescent. This wildflower bolts during the late spring to produce one or more leafy stems about 1½-3¼' long that are initially erect or ascending, although tending to sprawl across the ground later in the year. These stems are light green to purple, terete, and short-pubescent to pubescent throughout; this pubescence is not restricted to longitudinal lines. The stems are unbranched below, while they are sparingly to occasionally branched above. Alternate leaves occur along these stems that are 1-4" long and ½-3" across (becoming smaller in size as they ascend the stems); they are cordate below, becoming cordate-ovate to lanceolate above. The margins of these alternate leaves are coarsely serrated below, becoming serrated to slightly crenate-serrate above. The upper surfaces of these leaves are moderate green and sparsely short-pubescent to densely short-pubescent, while their lower surfaces are light green and moderately to densely short-pubescent or pubescent throughout; this pubescence is not restricted to the major veins. When these leaves are exposed to bright sunlight, they may become yellowish green. Leaf texture tends to be stiff and rough. The petioles of alternate leaves are ½-2" long and their margins are more or less winged; they are moderately to densely short-pubescent. Sometimes small secondary leaves appear in the axils of these leaves. Each leafy stem terminates in a panicle of flowerheads about ½-2' long and about one-half as much across. In addition to the central stalk of the panicle, there are several ascending lateral branches along which most of the flowerheads occur on short peduncles (less than ½" long). The central stalk, branches and peduncles are light green to purple, terete, and evenly short-pubescent to pubescent. Each flowerhead is about ½" across, consisting of 10-15 ray florets that surround 10-15 congested disk florets. The petaloid rays of these flowerheads are usually lavender or light violet (less often white) and linear-oblong in shape. The short-tubular disk florets are initially cream-colored to yellow, but they later become reddish purple. Each disk floret has 5 short lobes that are erect. Around the base of each flowerhead, the scale-like phyllaries (floral bracts) are arranged in several overlapping series; these phyllaries are appressed together, or nearly so. Individual phyllaries are 4-6 mm. in length, linear-lanceolate in shape, and light green, except for diamond-shaped patches of dark green near their apices. Leafy bracts occur along central stalk and lateral branches of the panicle that are up to 1" long and elliptic to linear-oblong in shape; they are slightly toothed to entire (smooth) along their margins. The blooming period occurs from late summer into autumn for 1-3 months. Afterwards, the florets are replaced by achenes with small tufts of white hair. The achenes are 2-3 mm. long, oblongoid-oblanceoloid in shape, slightly ribbed, and light to medium brown (sometimes with reddish or purplish tints). They are distributed by the wind. The root system is fibrous and short-rhizomatous. On older plants, a small woody caudex may develop. Clonal offsets are often produced from the rhizomes.

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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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