IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This native perennial plant is ½–1' tall, consisting of a tuft of basal leaves and flowering stalks that are grass-like in appearance. The basal leaves are shorter than the flowering stalks; they are both green, linear, and about 1/8" across. Each flowering stalk is narrowly winged and terminates in a pair of flower-bearing spathes and an outer leafy bract. Each spathe is sessile and consists of a pair of claw-like bracts up to 1" long; these bracts are often reddish or light brownish green. The outer leafy bract is up to 3" long. Between the bracts of each spathe, there develops a floppy umbel of flowers. Although an umbel has up to 6 flowers, only 1 or 2 flowers bloom at the same time. When it is fully open, each flower is about ½" across and consists of 6 white or pale blue tepals, a united column of yellow to orange-yellow stamens, and a green globoid ovary that is covered with fine glandular hairs. The slender pedicel of each flower is about ½" long. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer and lasts about 3-4 weeks; the flowers usually remain open from late morning to mid-afternoon on sunny days. There is no noticeable floral scent. Each flower is replaced by a seed capsule that is globoid and ridged; this capsule eventually turns brown and contains many small seeds. The root system consists of a tuft of coarse fibrous roots. This plant spreads by forming offsets and by reseeding itself.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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