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Description

This is a native perennial plant that is about 3' tall. It has a stout central stem with four prominent ridges, while much smaller side stems may appear above the leaf axils in the upper half of the plant. The opposite leaves are up to 5" long and 2½" across. They are broadly ovate or lanceolate, coarsely serrated, and have deep venation. The lower leaves have short stout petioles, while the upper leaves are sessile. At the end of each stem is a terminal spike of numerous small flowers from 1-5" long. The flowers are white or light lavender with some purple near the base of the lower lip. Each flower is about 1/3" long, with a greatly reduced upper lip and a long lower lip with a complicated structure. This lower lip functions as a landing pad for insect visitors, above which are two pairs of lateral petal-like extensions. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late summer, and lasts about 1½ months. There is no noticeable scent to the flowers. Each flower produces four round, coarsely pitted seeds with scattered white hairs. The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous. This plant spreads readily to form sizeable colonies. Cultivation

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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