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This biennial plant forms a rosette of leaves during the first year. During the second year, it becomes a rather lanky plant about 2-4' tall that branches occasionally. The stems have abundant white hairs; the lower central stem is often ribbed. The basal and lower leaves are up to 6" long and 3½" across; they are cordate-ovate or ovate with petioles up to 2" long. The upper leaves are lanceolate to elliptic and sessile, otherwise they are similar to the lower leaves. All leaves have smooth (entire) and slightly ciliate margins. The upper leaf surface is dark green and sparsely covered with short stiff hairs, while the lower leaf surface is medium green and more hairy, especially along the major veins. Both the lower and upper leaves alternate along the stems. The upper stems terminate in flowering racemes about 4-12" long; sometimes shorter racemes or individual flowers develop from the axils of the upper leaves. The stalks (peduncles) of these racemes are pubescent or hairy, and small leafy bracts may develop underneath some of the flowers. The pedicels of the flowers are pubescent or hairy and up to ¼" (6 mm.) in length. Each flower is about 1/8" (3 mm.) across, consisting of 5 petals and a pubescent green calyx with 5 slender teeth. The petals are white and well-rounded; less often, they are light blue. The blooming period occurs during the summer, lasting about 2-3 months. Only a few flowers are in bloom at the same time and they are fairly inconspicuous. The flowers are replaced by prickly subgloboid fruits (about 4-6 mm. across) that hang downward from short slender pedicels (one fruit per flower). Hooked prickles densely cover the surfaces of these fruits. The fruits are initially whitish green, but later they later become brown. Each fruit contains 4 nutlets. The root system consists of a taproot. This plant spreads by reseeding itself; it occasionally forms colonies. Cultivation


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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