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Description

During the first year, this biennial plant consists of a rosette of basal leaves spanning about 6" across. These basal leaves are up to 3½" long and ¾" across; they are obovate or oblanceolate, shallowly lobed or dentate along the margins, and nearly hairless. During the second year, a flowering stalk develops up to 3' tall that is unbranched or sparingly branched; it often leans over to one side. This stalk is pale green, hairless, and glaucous. The cauline (alternate) leaves are up to 8" long and 1" across, becoming smaller as they ascend the central stalk. They are usually lanceolate, hairless, and glaucous; some of the upper leaves are linear. The margins of these leaves are smooth or sparingly dentate. The base of each cauline leaf clasps the central stalk with a pair of basal lobes. Normally, the cauline leaves are some shade of green, but they can become reddish or yellowish green in bright sunlight. The central stalk (and any secondary stalks) terminates in an elongated raceme of flowers up to 1½' long. The small flowers bloom near the apex of this raceme, while the siliques (slender cylindrical seedpods) droop from their pedicels below. Each flower is about 4 mm. (1/6") across, consisting of 4 white petals, 4 light green sepals, a pistil with an undivided style, and several stamens. The petals are barely longer than the sepals. The pedicel of each flower is about 8 mm. (1/3") long, hairless, and ascending. The blooming period occurs from mid-spring to early summer and lasts about 1-2 months. Each flower is replaced by a slender silique up to 3½" long that is hairless; it contains a single row of small seeds with winged margins. The siliques spread widely or droop from their pedicels. When the siliques split open to release their seeds, the latter can be carried aloft to some extent by the wind. The root system consists of a taproot. This plant spreads by reseeding itself. Cultivation

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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