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This perennial wildflower forms a rosette of ascending to spreading basal leaves. Individual basal leaves are 6-12" long and 2-4" across; they are dull green, elliptic to ovate in shape, smooth along their margins, and hairless. The basal leaves have parallel veins and they are longitudinally pleated. During some years, Wood's Bunchflower produces an unbranched flowering stalk about 3-6' tall. Relatively few alternate leaves are located along the lower-half of each stalk. The alternate leaves are similar to the basal leaves, except their bases are more slender, and they become much smaller in size while ascending the flower stalk. The bases of these alternate leaves partially sheath each stalk. Each central stalk is light green, terete, and pubescent, terminating in an inflorescence about 1-2' long. This inflorescence consists of either a narrow raceme or elongated panicle of flowers. On each inflorescence, the upper flowers are perfect, while the lower flowers are staminate (male). The peduncle, lateral branches, and pedicels of the inflorescence are light green and pubescent, becoming dark brown with age. When lateral branches are present, they are 2-8" long and ascending to spreading (usually the former). The pedicels of the flowers are short (less than ½" long). Usually, there are narrow leafy bracts less than ½" long at the bases of the branches and pedicels. Perfect flowers are ½-¾" across, consisting of 6 widely spreading tepals, a small superior ovary, 6 stamens, and 3 styles. The narrow tepals are reddish brown (maroon) overall. The tepals have pairs of dark red glands at their bases, while toward the middle of each tepal there is often a transverse band of pale green or pale yellow. The ovary of each flower is light green, finely short-pubescent, and ovoid-conical in shape. Staminate flowers are the same as perfect flowers, except they lack an ovary and styles. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late summer for about 1 month. Afterwards, the perfect flowers are replaced by 3-celled seed capsules that become, when they are mature, about ¾-1" long and about one-half as much across. These capsules have 3 longitudinal lobes with sharp ridges; they are usually sparsely pubescent and change color from green to dark brown. Each capsule usually contains only 0-3 seeds, although sometimes there are more. The tan-colored angular seeds are up to ½" long and ¼" across. The root system is rhizomatous. Sometimes vegetative offsets develop from the rhizomes.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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