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Description

This perennial wildflower is ½-1½' tall. The erect central stem is light to medium green, terete, glabrous, and usually unbranched. Sheathed leaves with long floppy blades alternate along this stem. The leaf blades are 4-12" long and up to ¾" across; they are medium green, linear-lanceolate, parallel-veined, and mostly glabrous, except for occasional hairs where the blades emerge from the sheaths. The sheaths are glabrous with parallel veins; sometimes they have purple veins. The central stem terminates in an umbel-like cyme of flowers and a pair of large leafy bracts. These bracts have the same characteristics as the alternate leaves, and they are similar in size. The slender pedicels of the flowers are about ½-1" in length; they are light green to purple, glandular-hairy, and rather floppy. Individual flowers are 1-1¼" across, consisting of 3 blue-violet or rose petals, 3 light green sepals with glandular-hairy exteriors, 6 stamens with hairy filaments and yellow anthers, and a pistil. The sepals are lanceolate-ovate, while the petals are ovate-oval; the petals are a little longer than the sepals. The blooming period occurs from late spring to mid-summer and lasts about 1½ months. Usually, only 1-2 flowers are in bloom at the same time. The flowers are usually open only in the morning, except on cloudy days, when they may remain open a little longer. Each flower lasts only a single day and there is no noticeable fragrance. The flowers are replaced by seed capsules about ¼" long that are 3-celled; they are oblongoid-ovoid or oblongoid-obovoid in shape. Eventually, each seed capsule splits open into 3 parts, releasing 2-6 seeds. The seeds are about 2-3 mm. in length, tan or gray, broadly oblongoid, and somewhat flattened; each seed has a heavily ridged outer margin and it is indented along one side with a point in the middle. The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous. This wildflower often spreads vegetatively by means of its rhizomes, forming colonies.

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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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