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This herbaceous perennial plant is about ¾-1' tall and unbranched. A typical plant produces a single basal leaf on a long hairy petiole and a flowering stalk with a pair of cauline leaves near its apex. However, not all plants produce flowers. The central stalk is light green to reddish green, terete, rather stout, and quite hairy. One cauline leaf is sessile, while the other cauline leaf has a short petiole up to 2" long. The petioles of the basal and cauline leaves have characteristics that are similar to the flowering stalk. The basal leaves are up to 10" long and 10" across, while the cauline leaves are up to 8" long and 8" across. Both types of leaves have about 5 palmate lobes and their margins are doubly serrated and shallowly cleft. During the blooming period, these leaves are wrinkled, hairy, and smaller in size, but later in the year they become more smooth, less hairy (or even glabrous), and full-sized. The color of the leaves may change from yellowish green during the spring to medium-dark green during the summer. A flowering plant produces a single terminal flower on a short pedicel (up to 2" long); this pedicel is similar to the central stem in its characteristics. The flower is about ¾" across, consisting of 3 deciduous sepals, no petals, approximately 40 spreading stamens, and approximately 10 clustered pistils in the center. The greenish white sepals drop early and they are not present while the flower is in bloom. The stamens have white filaments and yellow or greenish yellow anthers. The slightly flattened pistils have short beaks and they are initially pale green. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late spring and lasts about 2-3 weeks. By mid- to late summer, the pistils have been replaced by a small tight cluster of bright red berries. Each berry contains 1-2 black shiny seeds. The root system consists of knotty yellow rhizomes and fibrous roots. This plant reproduces by clonal offsets from its rhizomes and by seed. It occasionally forms small colonies. Cultivation


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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