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DescriptionThis wildflower is a winter annual about 4-12" tall. The stems are either unbranched, or they branch at the base of each plant; they are pale red, terete, glabrous, and glaucous. Alternate leaves are arranged somewhat densely around the stems; they are about ½-1" long, 2-3 mm. across, and ascending to widely spreading. Individual leaves are pale green, linear in shape, subterete (circular, but slightly flattened in cross-section), and glabrous. The leaf bases slightly clasp the stems; each leaf has a pair of minute auricles (ear-like lobes) at its base. Each stem terminates in a cyme of flowers up to 6" across. Each cyme has 3-7 horizontal branches that are spaced widely apart; the flowers are densely arranged along the upper sides of these branches (typically 10-40 flowers per branch). The flowers are sessile or nearly sessile (on pedicels less than 1 mm. in length). Each flower spans about ½" across, consisting of 4 pink petals (rarely white), 4 pale green sepals, a cluster of 4 pistils, and 8 stamens. The petals and sepals are linear-lanceolate in shape; the petals are about twice the length of the sepals. The narrowly ovoid pistils are light pink (less often white) during the blooming period; each pistil has a single style. The anthers are initially dark red, but they turn black shortly afterwards. Among the flowers, there are bracts that resemble the leaves, except they are about one-half the size of the latter. The blooming period occurs during late spring to early summer, lasting about 1 month. Afterwards, the flowers are replaced by clusters of 4 spreading follicles; these follicles are about ¼" long, narrowly ovoid in shape, and prominently beaked. Immature follicles are pale green, but at maturity they turn brown. Eventually, each follicle splits open along one side to release numerous seeds. The root system is fibrous. This wildflower spreads by reseeding itself. At favorable sites, it often forms colonies of plants.