IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This native plant is a winter annual about ½–1½' tall and unbranched. The central stem is pubescent or hairless. The opposite leaves are up to 2" long and ¾" across; they may be pubescent or hairless. The lower leaves are oval or orbicular with a few blunt teeth along their margins; they are smaller than the other leaves and have slender petioles. The middle leaves are the largest and most conspicuous; they are oval or broadly lanceolate, often with a few blunt teeth along their margins, and they clasp the stem. The uppermost leaves are usually lanceolate and smooth along their margins; they are often sessile. The central stem terminates in a whorl of 4-6 flowers. Sometimes individual flowers develop from the axils of the upper leaves as well; these axillary flowers have slender pedicels. Each flower is up to ¾" across, consisting of a green calyx and a blue/white corolla. The calyx has 5 slender teeth; it is often pubescent. The short tubular corolla is divided into upper and lower lips. The upper lip is cleft into 2 lobes that are white, while the lower lip is cleft into 3 lobes. The 2 outer lobes of the lower lip are bright blue, while the middle lobe of the lower lip is folded into a keel and hidden from view. This middle lobe contains the stamens and style of the flower. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late spring and lasts about 3 weeks. Each flower is replaced by a globoid capsule that contains a few large seeds. The root system consists of a slender taproot. This plant spreads by reseeding itself; it often forms colonies of variable size.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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