IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This native parasitic plant is 4-18" tall. Small plants are often unbranched, but large plants are paniculately branched with stiff ascending stems. These stems are initially cream, tan, or purple-striped, but they turn brown with age. The surface of each stem is mostly glabrous, but sometimes it is slightly pubescent. The leaves are reduced to insignificant scales; they are located underneath some of the flowers. Along the length of the stems are alternate flowers; the lower stems have cleistogamous (self-fertile) flowers, while the upper stems have perfect flowers that are usually sterile. The cleistogamous flowers are small and bud-like in shape, while the perfect flowers have tubular corollas with short calyces.  The corolla of a perfect flower is about 1/3" (8 mm.) in length, cream- and purple-colored, with 4 short lobes along its outer rim. Each calyx is cream-colored with 5 purple-striped teeth; it is much shorter than the corolla of a perfect flower. Each perfect flower has a single style and four stamens; the latter are hidden within the corolla. The blooming period occurs from late summer into the fall. There is no noticeable floral scent. Each fertile flower is replaced by a small ovoid seed capsule about ¼" (6 mm.) long; it contains numerous tiny seeds that can be blown about by the wind. The root system is fibrous. Sometimes large colonies of this plant can be found.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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