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This plant is a summer annual about ¾-2½' tall that is unbranched or sparingly branched, except for some axillary inflorescences along the upper half of its length. The stems are light green with longitudinal veins that are a more dark shade of green; they are terete and sparsely to densely white-mealy (farinose). Alternate leaves about ½-1¾" long and about one-third as much across occur along the entire length of each stem; they are narrowly oblong to lanceolate-oblong, usually 3-veined (except for small upper leaves), and smooth along their margins. Some of the larger leaves have 1 or 2 shallow basal lobes. The upper surfaces of the leaves are medium green; they are either sparsely white-mealy or without the white-mealy characteristic. The lower surfaces of the leaves are light green; they are densely to sparsely white-mealy. Usually, young leaves are more white-mealy than older leaves. The foliage of Narrow-Leaved Goosefoot is non-aromatic. Both terminal and axillary panicles of flower occur along the upper half of each plant; sometimes these inflorescences are reduced to simple spikes. The terminal panicle is up to 6" long and 2" across, while axillary panicles are smaller in size. Sessile clusters of flowers and buds occur along the central stalk and ascending lateral branches of each panicle; they are all moderately to densely white-mealy. Individual flowers are less than 1/8" across, consisting of 5 sepals that are oblong-ovate and keeled, a flattened superior ovary, and a divided style. There are no petals. The blooming period occurs from mid-summer into the fall and lasts about 2 months. Only a few flowers are in bloom at the same time. The flowers can be cross-pollinated by the wind, otherwise they are self-fertile. Each flower is replaced by a tiny achene (about 1 mm. across) that is horizontally flattened and circular in shape; its exterior is black and shiny. The achene is surrounded by a membranous covering that is easy to remove. The root system consists of a taproot. This plant reproduces by reseeding itself; sometimes small colonies are formed.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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