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Description

This perennial wildflower is 2-3½' tall, sending up one or more leafy stems during the late spring. Initially, these stems are erect to ascending, but later in the year they sometimes sprawl across the ground. These stems are unbranched below and occasionally branched above; they are light green to reddish brown, terete, glabrous below, and lined with short hairs above. The alternate leaves are up to 4" long and 2½" across, becoming smaller as they ascend the stems. The lower leaves are cordate to cordate-ovate in shape and coarsely serrated to crenate-serrate along their margins. The upper leaves are cordate-ovate to ovate in shape and crenate-serrate to slightly crenate-serrate along their margins. The petioles are up to one-half the length of the blades, becoming relatively shorter as they ascend the stems; these petioles are conspicuously winged along their margins and they are often ciliate or slightly pubescent. The upper surfaces of the leaves are glabrous to sparsely covered with short hairs, while their lower surfaces are usually glabrous, except for some fine hairs along the major veins. However, some young leaves may have sparse short-pubescence on their lower surfaces. The central stem and upper lateral stems (if any) terminate in panicles of flowerheads that are ¾-1¾' long and about one-half as much across. The lateral branches of these panicles are ascending; the peduncles of the flowerheads are short (up to ½" in length). The central stalk, lateral branches, and peduncles are light green to reddish brown, terete, and either glabrous, short-pubescent, or lined with short hairs. Each flowerhead is about ½" across, consisting of about 8-15 ray florets that surround 8-12 disk florets. The petaloid rays of the flowerheads are lavender, light blue-violet, or white. The corollas of the disk florets are initially cream-colored or yellow, but they later become reddish purple. Around the base of each flowerhead, there are phyllaries (scale-like floral bracts) in several overlapping series; individual phyllaries are 2-5 mm. in length. Individual phyllaries are linear-lanceolate to narrowly lanceolate, appressed together or slightly spreading, and they have dark green patches near their tips that are diamond-shaped. Leafy bracts up to 1" long occur along the central stalks and lateral branches of panicles; they are linear-oblong or elliptic in shape and entire (smooth) along their margins. The blooming period occurs from late summer into the autumn and lasts about 1-3 months. Afterwards, the florets are replaced by achenes with small tufts of hair; they are distributed by the wind. The achenes are 2.0-2.5 mm. long, oblongoid-oblanceoloid in shape, and brown to purplish brown. The root system is fibrous and short-rhizomatous; an older plant may develop a small woody caudex. This wildflower spreads by reseeding itself and by forming clonal offsets from the rhizomes. A rosette of semi-evergreen basal leaves is created during the autumn that can persist until the spring. These basal leaves are ¾-3" long, cordate-ovate in shape, and crenate-serrated along their margins. Their upper surfaces are medium green and glabrous, while their lower surfaces are pale green and glabrous to finely hairy along the major veins. The petioles are about the same length as the corresponding basal leaves; they are narrow or slightly winged. Cultivation

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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