IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This introduced plant is a winter or spring annual about 2-6" tall. A mature plant becomes tufted at the base, sending up multiple stems. These stems are green and pubescent. The opposite leaves are up to ¾" long and about half as much across. These leaves are broadly oblong or ovate-oblong, green, and pubescent; they have conspicuous central veins, smooth margins, and sessile bases. The upper stems terminate in small cymes or individual flowers; sometimes the lower cymes branch into secondary cymes of flowers. The peduncles and pedicels of these cymes are light green and pubescent. At the base of each peduncle, there is a pair of green leaf-like bracts. These bracts are broadly lanceolate-oblong or lanceolate-ovate, pubescent, and smooth along the margins; some of the upper bracts have thin translucent margins toward their tips (i.e., they are slightly scarious). These translucent margins are more apparent in mature or dried-out plants than young specimens. The flowers at the tips of the pedicels are up to ¼" across when they are fully open. Each flower has 5 white petals, 5 green sepals, 5 white styles, and 5 stamens with pale yellow anthers. Each petal has several pale lines at its base, while its tip is notched. The sepals are lanceolate and hairy; their margins are translucent. The blooming period occurs during the spring and lasts about 1 month; this is one of the earliest wildflowers to bloom during the spring. The flowers open up during spring days that are sunny and warm. Some plants begin to bloom when they are only 1" tall. Each flower is replaced by a cylindrical capsule containing many small seeds. Each seed capsule is straight to slightly curved; there are 10 small teeth along its upper rim. The seeds are brown, somewhat flattened, and minutely warty or pebbly. The root system consists mostly of thin fibrous roots. This plant spreads by reseeding itself and it often forms small colonies.

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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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