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Description

This native perennial plant is 2-3' tall and unbranched, except for the upper flowering stems. The stems are covered with fine white hairs, as are the leaves, on both the upper and lower sides. These leaves are up to 4" long and 2" wide, light to medium green, lanceolate to ovate, with a fuzzy texture and smooth edges. They occur in opposite pairs, rotating 90° degrees as they ascend the stem. Small clusters of bright red or scarlet flowers occur at the top of the plant. The star-shaped flowers have 5 narrow petals that flare abruptly outward from a long tubular calyx that is about 1" long. The flowers are about ¾–1" across, and have exerted stamens with grey anthers. The calyx is light green, longitudinally ridged, and covered with sticky hairs that trap climbing insects. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late summer and lasts about a month. There is no floral scent. The small black seeds usually fall only a short distance from the mother plant. The root system consists of a central taproot and short rhizomes, which enable this plant to spread vegetatively to form small colonies.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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