IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This perennial wildflower is 2-8" tall. It is ascending to erect with either unbranched or sparingly branched stems. The slender stems are light green, terete, and usually short-pubescent. There are pairs of opposite leaves at intervals along these stems. The leaves are ½-1¼" long and about one-third as much across; they are medium green, glabrous above, and either glabrous or short-pubescent below. The leaves are oblong-elliptic to broadly oblong-elliptic in shape and smooth along their margins; they are either sessile or have short petioles (1 mm. in length). The stems terminate in small clusters of 2-5 flowers (less often individual flowers). In addition, axillary clusters of flowers may originate from the upper two pairs of leaves. Individual flowers are up to 1/3" across (8 mm.), consisting of 5 white petals, 5 light green sepals, a light green superior ovary with 3 styles, and 10 stamens. The widely spreading petals are oblong-elliptic in shape and about twice as long as the sepals. The sepals are lanceolate to ovate with blunt tips and either glabrous or short-pubescent. The very slender pedicels are up to 1" long and usually short-pubescent. The blooming period occurs during late spring to early summer and lasts about 1 month. Afterwards, the flowers are replaced by ovoid seed capsules about ¼" long. Along the upper rim of a mature seed capsule, there are 6 recurved teeth. Each seed capsule contains only a few seeds that are about 1 mm. in length, reniform and somewhat flattened in shape, and smooth along their outer surfaces. Attached to each seed, there is a spongy food appendage (elaisome). The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous. Vegetative offsets often develop from the rhizomes, forming small colonies of plants.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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