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This adventive winter or summer annual is about 1–2½' tall, branching occasionally. Plants that are winter annuals form a rosette of leaves up to 6" across. These leaves are oblanceolate or obovate and have long petioles. Summer annuals and 2nd-year winter annuals develop a central stem and several side stems. These stems are glabrous, ribbed, and winged along some of the ribs. The hairless alternate leaves are up to 4" long and 1" across. They are lanceolate, oblanceolate, or narrowly ovate, and have slightly wavy margins with a few blunt teeth. The lower leaves have short petioles or they are sessile, while the middle to upper leaves clasp the stem. At the base of each middle or upper leaf, there is a pair of ear-like lobes that clasp the stem and taper to a blunt point. Both the central stem and upper side stems terminate in erect racemes of small white flowers. Initially, the flowers bloom near the apex of a raceme, which later lengthens to about 3-8" as it matures.  Each flower is about 1/8" across when fully open and has 4 white petals and 4 green sepals. The slender pedicel of each flower is up to ½" long. The blooming period usually occurs from late spring to mid-summer, and lasts 1-2 months for a colony of plants. A few plants that are summer annuals may bloom later in the year. There is no noticeable floral scent, although the foliage may have a mustard-garlic aroma. Each flower is replaced by a seedpod up to ½" long and across that is nearly orbicular (a silicle). This seedpod has 2 cells, each containing several seeds, which are surrounded by a wide membranous wing. There is a small notch at the top of each seedpod. The seedpods are held more or less erect relative to the raceme. They eventually become detached from the raceme, and blow about in the wind. Each dark brown seed is oval-shaped, but well-rounded on one end and tapering to a point on the other. Across its surface there are curved concentric ridges that resemble the patterns of a fingerprint. 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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