IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This native perennial plant is up to 4' tall and unbranched, except near the inflorescence. The central stem is strongly four-angled and hairless. The opposite leaves are up to 5" long and 1½" across. They are sessile, hairless, lanceolate or oblanceolate, and have sharply-pointed widely-spaced teeth along the margins. The inflorescence consists of tall spikes of flowers at the ends of the upper stems. A spike is up to 10" long and consists of 4 rows of densely packed horizontal flowers or their buds. The tubular flowers are white, lavender, or purplish pink, and they often have dots, fine stripes, or swirls of a slightly darker color. Each flower is about 1" long, has 2 lips, while 4 purple anthers are visible near the upper lip. This upper lip is a broad hood, while the lower lip is divided into 3 lobes – the larger central one functioning as a landing pad for insects, which is accompanied by 2 smaller side lobes. The flowers have no scent.  The blooming period occurs during late summer to early fall, and lasts about 1½ months. Each flower produces 4 sharply angled, dull brown seeds. The root system consists of a central taproot and rhizomes. The latter promote the spread of this plant vegetatively.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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