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This adventive winter annual is about 1-2' tall, branching at the base and near the apex where the flowers occur. Initially, this plant consists of a rosette of basal leaves spanning about ½–¾' across. These basal leaves are narrowly obovate and occasionally pinnatifid toward the base. Their margins are entire or slightly undulate. One or more flowering stems develop from the rosette that are more or less erect. They are greyish green and covered with fine hairs. The cauline leaves are alternate, up to 3" long and ¾" across, becoming smaller as they ascend the stems. They are narrowly sagittate in shape and slightly dentate, entire, or undulate along the margins; each cauline leaf clasps the stem at the base. Both the basal and cauline leaves are greyish green and covered with fine hairs, like the stems.  Each stem terminates in a raceme of white flowers. The flowers are in bloom toward the apex of the raceme, while the seedpods (silicles) develop below. Each flower is about 1/8" across, consisting of 4 white petals and 4 green or purplish green sepals that are lanceolate-oblong. The pedicels of the flowers are slender, hairy, and spreading. The blooming period occurs during late spring or early summer and lasts about 1-2 months; some plants may bloom later in the year. Each seedpod is about ¼" long, oval-shaped, somewhat flattened, and conspicuously notched at its apex. It is divided into 2 cells, each cell containing a single seed. Each seed is reddish brown or reddish yellow; its flavor is pungent. The seedpods can be blown about by the wind or float on water. The root system consists of a stout taproot. This plant spreads by reseeding itself and occasionally forms colonies.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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