IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This introduced biennial plant is 2-4' tall and either unbranched or sparingly branched. The central stem is stout, ribbed, and usually glabrous beneath the inflorescence. The basal leaves of 1st-year plants form a low-growing rosette about 8-12" across. During the second year, this species bolts upward with alternate leaves along the flowering stems. They are up to 6" long and 2½" across, becoming smaller as they ascend the stems. The leaves of these 2nd-year plants are broadly lanceolate with margins that are coarsely crenate or dentate. Sometimes the margins are slightly undulate and irregular. The lower leaves strongly clasp the stems, while the upper leaves near the inflorescence are more likely to be sessile. The upper surface of each leaf is wrinkled along the veins and hairless. The central stem and upper side stems (if any) terminate in tall spike-like racemes of flowers about ½–2' in length. The stalks of these racemes are glandular hairy. Each flower spans up to 1" across, consisting of 5 spreading petals, 5 stamens, a hairy green calyx with 5 pointed lobes, and a single pistil with a green stigma. The petals are usually white or pale yellow, and they often have purplish pink or greenish brown tints on the surface facing the calyx. The center of the flower has fine purple hairs around the stamens and the base of the petals are often some shade of purple or pink. The pedicel of each flower is about ½" long, and there is a tapering green bract of about the same length at its base. The blooming period usually occurs during the summer, and lasts about 1-2 months. Each flower is replaced by a round capsule containing numerous seeds. The root system consists of a stout taproot. This plant spreads by reseeding itself.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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