IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This perennial wildflower is a biennial or short-lived perennial. During the first year, it forms a low rosette of basal leaves. The basal leaves are up to 6" long and 2" across; they are lanceolate, oblanceolate, or elliptic in shape and usually smooth (entire) along their margins. Both the lower and upper surfaces of these leaves are dull green and glabrous. During the second year and thereafter, an erect flowering stalk develops that is 2-4' tall and unbranched. The lower half of the stalk is light green, yellowish green, or purple, terete, and glabrous; sometimes their are purple or brown dots on light-colored stalks. Spreading to slightly drooping alternate leaves occur along the lower stalk that are up to 8" long and 1½" across. The alternate leaves are lanceolate-oblong in shape, smooth along their margins, and sessile or nearly so. The lower and upper surfaces of these leaves are dull green and glabrous. The primary veins of both basal and alternate leaves are parallel. The stalk terminates in a spike-like raceme of flowers about 1-2' tall. The flowers are densely arranged along the raceme and they are oriented in all directions. The upper half of the stalk (or axis of the raceme) is light green, yellowish green, or purple, terete, and more or less glandular-hairy. Individual flowers are about 1¼-2" long. Each flowers consists of a broad tubular corolla with 5 lobes, a calyx with 5 sepals, 4 stamens, and a pistil with a long style. The corolla tube is pale cream to yellowish green with an intricate network of brown or purple veins; its exterior is finely pubescent. The two upper lobes and two lateral lobes along the outer rime of the corolla are small in size and curve backward. The lower lobe is much larger in size (about ½-¾" long) than the other lobes; it is bright white and curves downward. The stamens and style are located along the upper surface of the corolla's interior. The sepals are light green, linear-lanceolate, hairy, and ciliate along their margins; they are about ½" long. The short pedicels are green and hairy. Underneath the flowers, are individual leafy bracts that are longer toward the bottom of the raceme than toward the top; they are highly variable in length (from ¼" long above to 6" long below). The leafy bracts are green, usually lanceolate-oblong in shape, variably hairy, and sessile; their margins are smooth and often ciliate. The blooming period occurs from late spring to mid-summer, lasting about 1 month. Afterwards, the flowers are replaced by ovoid seed capsules about ½" long that are green and hairy. At the apex of each seed capsule, the persistent style of the flower becomes stiff and hooked toward its tip. Each capsule contains numerous seeds. The root system consists of a taproot. If a plant lives longer than 2 years, it will die down to a rosette of basal leaves that persists during the winter. It will develop another flowering stalk when warm weather returns.

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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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