IUCN threat status:

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Comprehensive Description

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Description

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.

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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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