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This perennial vine is up to 15' long and non-woody. The stems twine about adjacent vegetation and fences, climbing upward toward the light. These stems are light green or light reddish green, round in circumference (terete), and shiny; they often have lines of fine white hairs. Opposite leaves up to 6" long and 2½" across occur at intervals along the stems. They are triangular-cordate, glabrous, and dark green. Their margins are smooth, but sometimes undulate up and down. The sinus of the leaf blade is indented and somewhat flattened. The petioles are up to 3" long and often reddish green. A milky sap is absent from the foliage. From the axils of the middle to upper leaves, there are small clusters of flowers about ¾-1½" across on peduncles 1-3" long. Each flower is white or pinkish white and up to ¼" long. The structure of each flower consists of a light green calyx with 5 lanceolate lobes, a white corolla with 5 linear lobes (sometimes with pink tips), and a white corona (or crown-like appendage) surrounding the reproductive organs in the center. The lobes of the corolla are semi-erect and rather twisted. The corona is divided into 5 segments; each segment has 2 linear extensions at its apex that are rather membranous and twisted. The blooming period occurs from mid-summer to early fall and lasts about 1-2 months. The flowers have a strong honey-like fragrance. If cross-pollination of a flower occurs, there develops a smooth follicle up to 4" long and 1" across; it is lanceoloid and tapers gradually to a point at one end. This follicle is initially green, although it laters becomes reddish green and finally brown. When the follicle splits open along one side, it releases numerous seeds. Each seed has a large tuft of white hairs, which enables distribution by the wind. The root system consists of a taproot and long rhizomes. This vine reproduces by clonal offsets or by reseeding itself. Cultivation


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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