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This native perennial plant is 1-2' tall. Multiple stems can emerge from the taproot, otherwise this plant is unbranched. The central stem is round, hairless, and either light green or purple. The opposite leaves are up to 4½" long and 2" across, and sessile against the stem. They are broadly lanceolate or ovate, with smooth margins and parallel venation. The upper surface of each leaf is dark green and often shiny, while both the upper and lower surfaces are devoid of hairs. The uppermost tier of leaves is often whorled. The apex of the stem terminates in a cluster of flowers immediately above the whorled leaves, while smaller clusters of flowers may develop from the axils of the upper pairs of leaves. These flowers are bottle-shaped, looking like oversized flowerbuds even when mature, and they are 1–1½" long. The corollas are violet, and will assume different shades of this color depending on the maturity of each flower. There are longitudinal ridges along the outer edge of the corolla, providing it with a wrinkly appearance. The corolla remains closed at the top even when the flower is ready to receive pollinating insects. Inside, the reproductive structures of the flower are fused together to form a central column. The corolla usually has 5 lobes, but these are barely noticeable because of an interconnecting fringe that is even taller than the lobes. The green calyx is much smaller than the corolla, and divided into 5 lanceolate segments. These segments may curl outward away from the flower rather than remaining upright.  The blooming period can occur from late summer to early fall, and usually lasts about a month. There is no noticeable floral scent. The small seeds can be transported by water or wind some distance from a mother plant. The root system consists of a stout taproot. Vegetative reproduction does not normally occur.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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