This annual wildflower is 1½2½' tall, branching occasionally. The stems are light to medium green, terete, hollow, and densely covered with stiff white hairs. Alternate leaves along these stems are 2-6' long and about 1/3 as much across; they are ovate, obovate, or oblanceolate in shape with margins that are smooth and slightly undulate. The upper leaf surface is dark green, wrinkled from indented veins, and covered with sparse appressed hairs. The lower leaf surface is light to medium green and hairy primarily along the undersides of the veins. Upper stems terminate in scorpioid cymes of nodding flowers. Individual flowers are ¾-1' across, consisting of 5 lanceolate blue petals (rarely white or pink), 5 green sepals, 5 dark blue to black anthers that merge together to form a central beak, and an ovary with a single style. The linear sepals are covered with stiff white hairs along their outer surfaces; they are about the same length or a little shorter than the petals. Like the stems and sepals, the branches of each inflorescence are covered with stiff white hairs; they are green to dark red. In Illinois, the blooming period occurs from mid-summer into the fall, lasting about 1½-3 months. Each flower is replaced by 4 dark brown nutlets. The root system consists of a taproot. This wildflower spreads by reseeding itself.