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This biennial plant is about 1–2½' tall, branching occasionally. The stems have a tendency to zigzag between leaves; they are light green, terete, and both short-pubescent and hairy. The alternate leaves are up to 6" long and 6" across. The lower leaves are pinnately cleft into 5 lobes; they are longer than wide, dentate along their margins, and slightly hairy. The earliest of these lower leaves have patches of greyish white or light green toward the middle of their upper surfaces, providing them with a water-stained appearance. The middle to upper leaves are orbicular and cleft into 5 lobes, resembling maple leaves; they are dentate along their margins and slightly hairy. The petioles of these leaves are rather long and stout; they are both short-pubescent and sparsely hairy. The upper stems terminate in floppy cymes of flowers. These flowers are about ¾" across when they are fully open, becoming more erect while in bloom. Each flower has a lavender or pale purplish pink corolla that consists of 5 spreading petals. At the base of this corolla, there is a hairy green calyx with 5 narrowly triangular teeth. Between each pair of teeth on the calyx, there is a short appendage that is strongly recurved. Toward the center of the corolla, there are 5 stamens with light to medium brown anthers and a slender white style that is divided toward its apex. The peduncles and pedicels of the cymes are light green, terete, and both short-pubescent and hairy; the peduncles are up to 6" long, while the pedicels are up to 1" long. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer, lasting about 3 weeks. Each flower is replaced by a 2-chambered capsule containing several seeds. The root system consists of a taproot. This plant spreads by reseeding itself. Cultivation


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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