Comprehensive Description

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This native perennial wildflower is about 2-4' tall; in open areas, it usually branches and has a bushy appearance. The stems are light green, terete, glabrous, and glaucous. The alternate leaves are up to 6" long and 2½" across; they are ovate to narrowly ovate, smooth along the margins, and usually hairless. The upper surface of each leaf is bright green, and glabrous, while the lower surface is pale green. Rarely, the lower surfaces of the leaves are pubescent. Each leaf has a slender petiole up to 1" long. The upper stems terminate in compact panicles of flowers.  Each flower spans ½–¾" across, consisting of a tubular corolla with 5 widely spreading lobes and a very short calyx with 5 triangular teeth. The corolla is mostly pale blue and its lobes are narrow and star-like. Near the base of each lobe, there is a small patch of white or pale yellow. The narrow throat of each corolla is guarded by a ring of white hairs that face inward (probably to keep out ants & other nectar thieves). The branches of the panicle are green and hairless, becoming dark brown or black with age. The blooming period occurs from mid-spring to early summer and lasts about a month. There is no noticeable floral scent. Each fertilized flower is replaced by a pair of cylindrical follicles that are about 4-5" long. The follicles are glabrous and erect to ascending. Each follicle contains a a single row of small cylindrical seeds; it splits along one side to release them. The root system consists of a taproot. This wildflower spreads by reseeding itself. Cultivation


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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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