IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This native wildflower is a winter annual or biennial about ½–1½' tall that is unbranched or branches occasionally. The stems are light green, terete or angular, and covered with long white hairs. The alternate leaves are ½–2" long and about one-third as wide; they are light green, oblong or oblanceolate, smooth and ciliate along the margins, and usually hairy on both the upper and lower surfaces. Each leaf has a prominent central vein. The leaves are mostly sessile against their stems; the lowest leaves taper to petiole-like bases. The central stem and upper lateral stems (if present) terminate in elongated racemes of small white flowers about 2-8" long. Each raceme has about 8-24 flowers on a hairy stalk; there are no bracts alongside the flowers. The flowers bloom toward the apex of each raceme, where it is typically curled like a scorpion's tail; the hairy ovoid fruits develop below. Each flower is 1/8" across, consisting of a white corolla with 5 rounded lobes, a hairy calyx with 5 lanceolate sepals, 5 stamens (inconspicuous), and a pistil. Sometimes the hairs of the calyx are hooked at their tips. The blooming period occurs from mid-spring to early summer and lasts about 2 months. The racemes become longer as their dry fruits (seed capsules) develop; these fruits have pedicels that are more or less erect. At this stage of development, the pedicels are a little shorter than their fruits. Each fruit contains 4 seeds. The root system consists of a taproot and secondary fibrous roots. This wildflower reproduces by reseeding itself.

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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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