IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This native plant is an annual or short-lived perennial that is 1-2½' tall, branching occasionally and rather erect in habit. The round stems are hairless and somewhat broader where the ocreae occur. The alternate leaves are up to 6" long and ¾" across. They are lanceolate-ovate or narrowly ovate, tapering to short petioles. These leaves are usually hairless, except for a few hairs along the lower midrib in some cases, and they have smooth margins. At the base of each leaf, is a sheath (ocrea) that wraps around the stem. This sheath is membraneous and hairless, except for a few long bristles along its upper edge. With age, it falls away from the stem. The upper stems terminate in more or less erect spike-like racemes about 2-6" in length. Each raceme has small flowers that are sparsely distributed along its length. Each flower is about 1/8" long, white or greenish white, and its outer surface (consisting of sepals) has glandular dots that are either pale- or dark-colored (if pale-colored, a hand lens may be necessary in order to see them). The 5 sepals of the flower are more or less tightly folded against each other, while the short style is divided at its base into 2 or 3 segments. The blooming period occurs from mid-summer to early fall, and lasts about 1-2 months. There is no noticeble floral scent. Each flower is replaced by an achene that is shiny, dark brown to black, three-angled, and rather oblong. This plant often forms colonies of varying size in wet areas.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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