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This herbaceous perennial plant is about 4-8" tall. It consists of a rosette of basal leaves spanning about 6" across. These basal leaves are greyish green to green and glabrous. Each of these leaves is ternately compound and divided into 3 primary leaflets, while each primary leaflet is divided into 3 secondary leaflets. These secondary leaflets are pinnately cleft into linear or oblanceolate lobes. The long petioles of the compound leaves are slender and glabrous; they are pale red, tan, or brown. From the center of the rosette, there develops a semi-erect raceme of 2-6 pairs of white flowers on a long peduncle (flowering stalk). This raceme tends to bend to one side, while the flowers droop upside-down from their pedicels. Both the peduncle and pedicels are pale red or yellowish brown, terete, glabrous, and sometimes glaucous. The pedicels are about ¼" in length; in the middle of each pedicel, there is a pair of tiny linear bracts. Each flower is about ¾" long and assumes the form of an upside-down Dutchman's Breeches, hence the common name of the plant. It consists of 2 outer petals that are white and 2 inner petals that are pale yellow. The two outer petals form two nectar spurs that are long and spreading; they are joined together at the base. The two inner petals are much smaller and form the base of the flower; they have small wings that curl upward. The 2 sepals of each flower are white and more or less ovate in shape; they are much shorter than the petals. The blooming period occurs from early to mid-spring and lasts about 2-3 weeks. There is no noticeable floral scent. The flowers are replaced by oblongoid-ovoid seed capsules that taper into points at both ends. These capsules eventually split apart into 2 segments to release their seeds. The root system consists of a bulbous base with fleshy scales and secondary roots. Cultivation


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers


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