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This native perennial plant is up to 6' tall and unbranched, except at the inflorescence. The central stem is stout and smooth. The leaves usually occur in whorls of 3-9 along the stem, although some of the upper leaves may occur along the stem in pairs or alternate individually. The leaves are individually up to 7" long and 1" across, rather stiff in texture, and sometimes curve upward along their margins. They are lanceolate or narrowly ovate, with smooth margins and parallel venation. Above the terminal leaves of the central stem, 1-12 flowers hang downward from stalks about 4-8" long that spread upward and outward. Some flowering stalks may also appear from the axils of the upper leaves. Each showy flower is about 3-4" across, with 6 tepals that flare outward and then curve strongly backward beyond the base of the flower. These tepals are yellowish orange or green near the base of the flower, and become orange to dark orange towards their tips. They have numerous brownish purple dots toward the throat of the flower. The stamens are quite conspicuous and strongly exerted from the base of the flower, with reddish brown to black anthers that are ½" long or longer in length. They surround a long whitish orange stigma that curls slightly upward and is orange or brown toward its tip. The blooming period occurs from early to mid-summer, and lasts about a month. There is no noticeable floral scent. The oblong 3-lobed seedpods contain closely stacked, flat seeds with thin papery wings – this enables them to be carried some distance by gusts of wind. The root system consists of a white bulb, from which new offsets may form.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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