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This perennial wildflower is ½-1½' tall. The erect central stem is light to medium green, terete, glabrous, and usually unbranched. Sheathed leaves with long floppy blades alternate along this stem. The leaf blades are 4-12" long and up to ¾" across; they are medium green, linear-lanceolate, parallel-veined, and mostly glabrous, except for occasional hairs where the blades emerge from the sheaths. The sheaths are glabrous with parallel veins; sometimes they have purple veins. The central stem terminates in an umbel-like cyme of flowers and a pair of large leafy bracts. These bracts have the same characteristics as the alternate leaves, and they are similar in size. The slender pedicels of the flowers are about ½-1" in length; they are light green to purple, glandular-hairy, and rather floppy. Individual flowers are 1-1¼" across, consisting of 3 blue-violet or rose petals, 3 light green sepals with glandular-hairy exteriors, 6 stamens with hairy filaments and yellow anthers, and a pistil. The sepals are lanceolate-ovate, while the petals are ovate-oval; the petals are a little longer than the sepals. The blooming period occurs from late spring to mid-summer and lasts about 1½ months. Usually, only 1-2 flowers are in bloom at the same time. The flowers are usually open only in the morning, except on cloudy days, when they may remain open a little longer. Each flower lasts only a single day and there is no noticeable fragrance. The flowers are replaced by seed capsules about ¼" long that are 3-celled; they are oblongoid-ovoid or oblongoid-obovoid in shape. Eventually, each seed capsule splits open into 3 parts, releasing 2-6 seeds. The seeds are about 2-3 mm. in length, tan or gray, broadly oblongoid, and somewhat flattened; each seed has a heavily ridged outer margin and it is indented along one side with a point in the middle. The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous. This wildflower often spreads vegetatively by means of its rhizomes, forming colonies.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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