IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This is a native perennial plant that consists of a low-growing rosette of basal leaves, from which flowering scapes up to 10" tall emerge from the center. The basal leaves are up to 6" long and 4" across, and have long petioles. They are oval, parallel-veined, hairless, and have smooth margins that occasionally undulate. The petioles near the base of the rosette are light purple on some plants. The flowering scapes are unbranched and narrowly cylindrical. Each scape consists of a rather dense spike of tiny green flowers and their bracts. Each flower is less than 1/8" long and consists of 4 sepals, which are surrounded by lanceolate bracts. The blooming period usually occurs during the summer, and sometimes later if there is a major disturbance that prevents development of the flowering scapes. Pollination is by wind, rather than insects. The flowers rapidly turn brown, and are replaced by elongated seed capsules that are shaped like a tiny narrow acorn. They split open to below the middle by a lid, releasing 2-9 seeds each. The seeds are black, oval and slightly angular, with a tiny indentation in the middle of one side. There is no reticulation on the surface. These seeds become sticky when wet, and can attach themselves to blowing leaves and other passing objects. The root system is quite branched and coarsely fibrous.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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