IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This native perennial plant is up to 10" tall and unbranched, except at the base. The succulent stems are round, light green, and hairless. The fleshy leaves are up to ¾" long and across. The lower leaves are orbicular or obovate, smooth along the margins, glabrous, and whorled in groups of 3 along the stems (less often, they are opposite). The upper leaves are rhombic or oblanceolate and alternate along the stems; they are smaller and more narrow than the lower leaves, otherwise these two types of leaves are very similar. Some of the stems (the fertile shoots) terminate in spreading cymes of white flowers, while others (the infertile shoots) produce only leaves. Each flat-topped cyme consists of 2-4 white to light green branches of flowers. Each flower is up to ½" across, consisting of 4 narrow white petals, 4 green sepals, 8 stamens, and 4 pistils in the center. The anthers of the stamens have a silvery appearance while young, but they later become reddish brown. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer and lasts about a month. The tiny seeds are contained in follicles that split open along one side; these seeds can be carried aloft by the wind. The root system produces abundant rhizomes and forms vegetative offsets; this results in small clumps of plants.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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