IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This native perennial plant is about 3-6" tall, consisting of a flowering stem with a pair of opposite cauline leaves and some basal leaves. The stem is light green or slightly reddish green, glabrous, and rather succulent. The basal leaves and the pair of cauline leaves are linear or linear-lanceolate, recurved, glabrous, smooth along the margins, and rather fleshy. There is a single central vein along the length of each leaf. The leaves are about 3-6" long; their width varies considerably depending on the local ecotype, but it is usually about ¼" across. The stem terminates in a floppy raceme of flowers. Each flower is up to ½" across when fully open, consisting of 5 petals, 2 green sepals, 5 stamens with pink anthers, and a pistil with a tripartite style. The petals are white with fine pink stripes; these stripes vary from pale pink to bright pink. The flowers open up on warm sunny days, and close during cloudy weather or at night. They are more or less erect while open, but nod downward while closed. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late spring and lasts about a month. There is a pleasant floral scent. Each fertilized flower produces an ovoid capsule containing several seeds; this capsule is enclosed by the 2 persistant sepals. The root system consists of a small round corm and secondary roots. This plant spreads by reseeding itself, and can become abundant in some areas.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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