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Description

This herbaceous perennial plant is 1-1½' tall, consisting of both basal leaves and a flowering stem with a pair of opposite leaves. The erect to ascending stem is light green, terete, and conspicuously hairy. Both types of leaves are up to 6" long and 4" across (excluding the petioles); they are bipinnatifid, consisting of 1-3 pairs of primary lateral lobes and a primary terminal lobe. The primary lateral lobes are up to 2" long and 1" across, while the primary terminal lobe is up to 2" long and 2" across. Both types of lobes have shallow to moderately deep secondary lobes with rounded tips. For mature leaves, the upper leaf surface is yellowish green to dark green and glabrous, while the lower leaf surface is pale green and pubescent to hairy. Immature leaves may have short appressed hairs on their upper surfaces. The petioles of the leaves are up to 4" long and sparsely hairy. There is little difference in the appearance of the basal and opposite leaves, although the latter have shorter petioles. The foliage contains a yellow-orange sap. The upper stem terminates in either an individual flower or an umbel of 2-4 flowers. Each flower is about 1¼-2¼" across, consisting of 4 yellow petals, 2 early-deciduous sepals, numerous stamens with golden yellow anthers, and a pistil with a single stout style and knobby stigma. The petals are orbicular-obovate in shape, while the sepals are light green and very hairy. The ovary of the pistil is ¼-½" in length, narrowly ovoid in shape, more or less yellow, and finely hairy. The pedicels are ¼-2" long, light green, hairy, and terete; they are ascending to erect while the flowers are in bloom. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late spring, lasting about 2-3 weeks. In the absence of insect pollination, the flowers can self-pollinate. Shortly afterward, the flowers are replaced by ovoid seed capsules about ¾-1" long that nod from their pedicels; these capsules are 4-segmented and densely hairy. Numerous seeds are released after each capsule splits apart. They are dark brown and about 1.5 mm. in diameter; there is a white fringe of oil bodies (elaisomes) along one side of each seed. The root system consists of a woody caudex with coarse fibrous roots. Cultivation

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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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