IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This perennial plant is ½–1' tall, forming a a tuft of linear basal leaves with smooth margins. The basal leaves are 2-3 mm. across, flattened, pale green, and glabrous. One or more flowering stalks develop from among the basal leaves; these stalks are about the same length or somewhat taller than the leaves. The linear stalks are 1-2 mm. across, pale green, and glabrous; each stalk has a stiff raised ridge that runs along the flattened sides of its length. Each stalk produces a pair of sessile claw-like bracts (or spathe) near its apex, between which a single umbel of flowers occurs. The outer bract is ¾-1" long, while the inner bract is ½-¾" in length (sometimes the inner bract isn't distinct from the flowering stalk during the early stage of its development). Both bracts are some shade of pale green, pinkish purple, or brownish purple; they are linear-lanceolate in shape, slightly curved, and usually glabrous. The outer bract is somewhat swollen at its base. Each umbel has 3-6 flowers on slender pedicels that are about the same length as the bracts. The flower buds are hairy and nodding, while flowers in bloom are held more erect. Each flowers is up to ½" across, consisting of 6 tepals that are blue-violet, light blue, or white, and a yellow spike-like structure in its center that contains the reproductive organs. Near the center of the flower, the tepals are yellow. The tepals are oblong-elliptic in shape and they taper abruptly into short narrow tips. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer, lasting about 3 weeks. There is no noticeable floral scent. The flowers are replaced by 3-celled seed capsules. At maturity, these capsules are about 3 mm. long, ovoid-globoid in shape, and glabrous. Eventually, each capsule splits open into 3 sections to release the small dark seeds. The seeds are small enough to be dispersed a limited distance by gusts of wind. The root system is coarsely fibrous, and new plants can develop vegetatively from adjacent offsets. Cultivation


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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