IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This native perennial wildflower is 1–2½' tall and either unbranched or sparingly branched. The alternate compound leaves are 2- or 3-pinnate and large in size; the leaflets are organized into groups of 3 (less often 5). The lower compound leaves have long petioles, while the petioles of the upper compound leaves are shorter. The leaflets are up to 4" long and 2¼" across; they are more or less ovate in shape, while their margins are shallowly cleft and strongly toothed. Usually, the terminal leaflets are a little larger than the lateral leaflets; the terminal leaflets have slender petiolules (leaflet stalks), while the lateral leaflets are either sessile or they have slender petiolules. The upper surface of each leaflet is dull green and hairless; the lower surface is also hairless. A raceme of white flowers on a long naked peduncle develops from the axil of the uppermost compound leaf. Initially, this raceme is about 1½–3" long and short-cylindrical in shape, but it becomes longer (3-6") when its flowers are replaced with berries. Each raceme has 10-28 flowers on widely spreading pedicels; these pedicels are short (about ½"), glabrous, and stout. Each flower spans about ¼" across, consisting of 4-10 white petals, a dozen or more white stamens, and a superior ovary with a short stout style. At the tip of this style is a large persistent stigma that is translucent white (although it later becomes dark). The sepals are early-deciduous and insignificant. Each petal is narrowly oblanceolate and often truncate at its tip. The blooming period occurs from late spring to very early summer; it lasts about 2 weeks. The flowers are replaced by berries that are ovoid-globoid and up to 1/3" in length. These berries become bright white when they are mature, while the pedicels and central axis of the raceme become bright red. At the outer end of each berry, there is a dark spot from the persistent stigma. Inside each berry, there are several seeds (fewer than 10). The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous. Cultivation

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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