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This herbaceous perennial plant is ½–2' tall, often tillering at the base with multiple erect to sprawling stems. The stems are green to purplish green, terete, and hairy, branching occasionally. At intervals along the entire length of each stem, there are pairs of opposite leaves. The leaves are 1½–3" long and ¾–3" across, becoming more narrow and slightly shorter as they ascend the stems. The leaves are pinnatifid and ovate to lanceolate in outline; the lower leaves are often deeply divided (cleft) into 3 primary lobes (1 terminal lobe and 2 lateral lobes), while the upper leaves are shallowly to moderately divided (cleft) into 3 or more primary lobes. The primary lobes of these leaves, in turn, are shallowly divided (cleft) into smaller secondary lobes and coarse dentate teeth. The tips of these lobes are bluntly acute. The leaf margins are slightly ciliate. The upper leaf surface is medium green and sparsely short-pubescent, while the lower leaf surface is more hairy, especially along the lower sides of the veins. Leaf venation is pinnate; the upper leaf surface is slightly wrinkled along these veins. Upper stems terminate in individual spikes of flowers that are 1-6" long. Initially these floral spikes are quite short, but they become elongated with age. A dome-shaped cluster of 10-25 flowers up to 2½" across is produced at the apex of each spike, while the ascending calyces of withered flowers persist below. Each flower is about ¾" long and ½" across, consisting of narrowly tubular corolla with 4-5 spreading lobes, a short-tubular calyx with 4-5 long narrow teeth, 4 stamens, and a pistil. The corollas are pink, rosy pink, lavender, or rarely white; their lobes are obovate to oblanceolate in shape and sometimes notched at their tips. The calyces are a little less than ½" long (including the teeth), medium green to reddish purple, and hairy; their teeth are linear-lanceolate in shape and ciliate. The erect to ascending peduncles of the floral spikes are 1-4" long, medium green to purplish green, terete, relatively stout, and hairy. The blooming period occurs from late spring to mid-summer, lasting about 2 months. Some plants may bloom later and longer, but this is an exception to the rule. The flowers may, or may not, have a pleasant floral fragrance. Afterwards, the flowers are replaced by nutlets (4 per flower). Mature nutlets are about 3 mm. long, narrowly angular-cylindrical in shape, and black. The root system consists of a woody caudex with fibrous roots. In addition, when they lie on moist ground, the lower nodes of the stems sometimes develop secondary plants with rootlets. As a result, clonal colonies of plants are produced. Cultivation


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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