IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This native 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 and hairless. 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 petiole of each compound leaf is long and slender; it is often brown-colored. From the center of the rosette, there develops a drooping raceme of 2-6 pairs of white flowers. These flowers hang upside down from slender pedicels. In the middle of each pedicel, there is a pair of tiny bracts. Each flower is about ¾" long and assumes the form of 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 sepals of each flower are scale-like and insignificant. The blooming period occurs from early to mid-spring and lasts about 2-3 weeks. There is no noticeable floral scent. Each flower can develop into an oblongoid-ovoid seed capsule that tapers to a point on both ends. This seed capsule eventually splits apart into 2 segments to release the seeds. The root system consists of a bulbous base with fleshy scales and secondary roots.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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