IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This perennial wildflower is 4-8" tall, consisting of leafy stems with axillary flowers and seed capsules. The stems are light green and glabrous. The blades of alternate leaves are about 1-2½" long and ¾-1½" across; they are oval-cordate in shape and serrate-crenate along their margins. The base of each leaf blade is indented, while its tip is well-rounded to somewhat pointed. The upper blade surface is medium to dark green and glabrous, while the lower surface to light to medium green and glabrous. The slender petioles are about the same length as the leaf blades or shorter; they are light green and glabrous. Individual flowers develop from the axils of the leaves on slender pedicels about 1½-3" long; the flowers are usually held above the leaves. The pedicels are light green and glabrous; there is a pair of small linear bracts toward the middle of each pedicel. Individual flowers are ½-¾" across, consisting of 5 pale blue-violet petals, 5 green sepals, and the reproductive organs. The style of each flower is bent downward at its tip, where it is not swollen. Dark blue-violet veins radiate away from the throat of each flower across the petals; the two lateral petals have tufts of white hair (or beards) toward their bases. The lower petal has a relatively long nectar spur about ¼" long; this spur is sometimes visible when the flower is viewed from the front (behind the upper 2 petals). The nectar spur is relatively stout and either straight or slightly hooked. The sepals are linear-lanceolate and hairless. The blooming period occurs during the middle of spring for about 1 month. Fertilized flowers produce an ovoid-oblongoid seed capsule about 1/3" long. This capsule splits open into 3 parts to fling the seeds from the mother plant. This wildflower also produces inconspicuous cleistogamous flowers during the summer, which are self-fertile; their seed capsules are similar to the earlier fertilized flowers. The small seeds are globoid in shape and light brown at maturity. The root system consists of a vertical crown with fibrous roots and horizontal rhizomes; clonal offsets are produced occasionally from the rhizomes.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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