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This perennial wildflower forms a rosette of ascending to widely spreading basal leaves, from which one or more flowering stalks develop that are ¾-2½' tall. The foliage contains a milky latex sap. The basal leaves are 1½-6" long, ¼-1" across, and narrowly oblanceolate to oblanceolate in shape; their margins are toothless and ciliate with scattered long hairs. The basal leaves taper gradually to their bases. In addition to the basal leaves, there are often 1-2 alternate leaves toward the base of a flowering stalk. These latter leaves are similar to the basal leaves, except they are narrowly lanceolate to lanceolate in shape; their bases are sessile or they clasp the stalk. The upper surface of each leaf blade is  pale to medium green or grey-blue, often glaucous, and either glabrous or sparsely covered with long ascending hairs. The lower surface of each leaf blade is mostly glabrous, except along the central vein, where some hairs occur. The long flower stalk is light green, terete, and variably hairy. Toward its apex, this stalk is usually short-pubescent with scattered long hairs that are often sticky and glandular. Toward its bottom, this stalk is either glabrous or sparsely pubescent. At the apex of the stalk, there is a flat-headed panicle of flowerheads that is usually more wide than it is tall (typically 3-6" across). The size of this panicle and the number of flowerheads is highly variable (typically 5-30 flowerheads, but sometimes more). The light green branches of the panicle are short-pubescent and they have scattered long hairs that are glandular and sticky. Each flowerhead spans about ¾" across, consisting of numerous yellow ray florets and no disk florets. The petaloid rays have truncate tips with 5 teeth. Around the base of each flowerhead, there are 10-20 floral bracts (phyllaries) that are arranged in a single series. These floral bracts are dull green, linear-lanceolate in shape, and short pubescent. Along the middle of each floral bract, there is a row of long black hairs that are glandular and sticky. The blooming period occurs from late spring to mid-summer and lasts about a month. In the absence of cross-pollination, the florets are capable of self-pollination. The florets are replaced by achenes that are about 1/8" long (3-4 mm.) at maturity. These achenes are dark reddish brown and narrowly bullet-shaped. At the truncate apex of each achene, there is attached a small tuft of white hairs. Achenes are distributed by the wind. The root system is fibrous; stolons are not produced..


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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