IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This native perennial wildflower is 4-8" tall. A non-flowering plant produces a whorl of trifoliate basal leaves on slender stems; each basal leaf typically has 3 leaflets on a long slender petiole. The basal stems are light green to reddish purple, unbranched, terete, and hairless; the stems of flowering plants are similar. Individual leaflets are up to 1½" long and 1" across; they are obovate or broadly oblong in shape. The outer margin of each leaflet has 3 blunt lobes, otherwise the margins are usually smooth. Sometimes there are 1-2 blunt teeth along the outer margin of a leaflet. The upper surface of each leaflet is medium green to purplish green and hairless, while the lower surface is pale green and hairless. A reticulate network of veins is conspicuous on the lower surface. At the base of each leaflet, there is a slender stalk (petiolule) about ¼" long. Toward the middle of its stem, a flowering plant sometimes produces a whorl of cauline leaves that resembles the whorled basal leaves. At its apex, this stem terminates in a whorl of trifoliate leaves or simple leaflets (sometimes including a combination of the two). These terminal leaves and leaflets resemble the leaves and leaflets of the basal and cauline leaves. Immediately above the terminal leaves or leaflets is a loose umbel of 1-5 flowers. The slender pedicels of the flowers are up to 1½" long. The diurnal flowers are ½–1" across; the central flower is usually a little larger in size than any lateral flowers. Each flower has 5-10 petal-like sepals, a dense cluster of small green pistils in the center, and a ring of conspicuous stamens. The petal-like sepals are white or pinkish white, while the stamens have white filaments and yellow anthers. There are no true petals. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late spring for about 3 weeks. Each flower is replaced by a cluster of 4-15 achenes. Each achene is about 1/3" in length, terminating in a slightly hooked beak. Inside each achene, there is a single seed. The root system consists of fibrous roots; the upper roots near the base of a plant are somewhat fleshy and swollen. This wildflower spreads by reseeding itself.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers


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