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Early Whitlow Grass is one of the earliest annual plants to bloom during the spring. The flowers open up when the weather is warm and sunny, otherwise they remain closed. In dry sterile areas, blooming plants may be only 1-2" tall (including the flowering stems). The flowers are rather showy, considering the small size of the plant. Early Whitlow Grass is easy to identify because it is the only Whitlow Grass in Illinois with deeply notched petals. The other species of Whitlow Grass are assigned to the Draba genus, and they are perennials that produce white flowers with unnotched petals. Their flowering stems usually have a few leaves, while the stems of Early Whitlow Grass are leafless. Another scientific name for the latter is Draba verna. The common name "Whitlow Grass" is a misnomer because these species are members of the Mustard family, rather than the Poaceae (Grass family).

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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