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Description

This herbaceous wildflower is a biennial about 1-3' tall. During the first year, it forms a low rosette of leaves, while during the second year it bolts, forming flowering stalks. Small second-year plants branch sparingly, if at all, while robust second-year plants branch readily, especially above. The stems are light green, yellowish green, or reddish green; they are terete and glabrous. Pairs of opposite leaves occur along these stems. Individual leaves are 1-2½" long and ¼-1" across; they are ovate, lanceolate, or narrowly lanceolate in shape and smooth along their margins. Each leaf is rounded at the base, where it is sessile or clasps the stem. Both the lower and upper surfaces of the leaves are yellowish green to medium green and glabrous. The leaves have prominent central veins and a slightly succulent texture. Upper stems terminate with individual flowers on long peduncles (up to 8" in length). Each flower is 1½-2½" long, consisting of a broad tubular corolla with spreading 4 lobes that are rounded and fringed, 4 lanceolate to ovate sepals that are about one-half the length of the corolla, 4 inserted stamens, and a pistil with a short style. The corolla varies in color from medium blue to deep dark blue. The sepals are light green to reddish green, glabrous, and keeled; 2 sepals are shorter than the other 2 sepals. The shorter sepals have membranous margins. The upright peduncles are light green to reddish green and glabrous; they are terete and sometimes slightly ribbed (striated). The blooming period occurs from early to mid-fall and lasts about 1½-2 months. The flowers are diurnal, opening up on sunny days, while remaining closed on cloudy days and during the night. There is no noticeable floral scent. The flowers are replaced by elongated seed capsules. Individual capsules divide into 2 parts to release the numerous tiny seeds within. To some extent, they are distributed by wind and water. The seed surface is minutely bumpy. The root system consists of a shallow branching taproot. 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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