IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This plant is an introduced winter annual about ½–2' tall that is erect and branches occasionally. The hairless stems are medium green, terete, and often slightly grooved. The alternate leaves are up to 3" long and 1½" across; they are irregularly bipinnatifid and ascending. The lobes of mature leaves are medium green, hairless, and filiform (worm-like and circular in cross-section); however, the lobes of young leaves during the spring are often linear (flattened in cross-section). The upper stems terminate in individual flowers spanning about ¾–1½" across. Each flower has 5 petal-like sepals, 5 insignificant petals, 5 carpels that are joined together, and numerous stamens. The petal-like sepals are usually pale metallic blue, although other colors are possible; they are elliptic in shape and widely spreading. Immature carpels are green and hairless; each carpel has a beak-like style that is also green and resembles one of the lobes of the leaves. Underneath each flower, there is a whorl of about 5 bipinnatifid bracts that are very similar to the leaves in appearance; their lobes are hairless, green, and filiform. The blooming period usually occurs from late spring to mid-summer and lasts about 1-2 months for a colony of plants. However, some plants may bloom later if they germinated during the spring, rather than the fall. Each flower is replaced by a large ovoid fruit consisting of 5 beaked follicles (seed capsules) that are joined together in the center. These follicles turn brown at maturity and split open to release their seeds; there are numerous seeds per follicle. The small seeds are somewhat flattened and black. The root system is fibrous. This plant reproduces are reseeding itself.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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