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This introduced annual or biennial plant is about 2-3½' tall and little branched, except near the apex where the flowering stems occur. The green or reddish stems have scattered long white hairs. The alternate leaves are up to 3½" and 2" across (excluding the petioles). The lower leaves of mature plants are oval-cordate or oval-deltate. They are coarsely serrated or shallowly lobed and have long hairy petioles that are green or reddish purple. The upper leaves of mature plants are deltoid or ovate, somewhat smaller in size, coarsely serrated, and sessile. The basal leaves of young plants are more narrow than the leaves of mature plants. They are lanceolate, narrowly ovate, or oblanceolate, and coarsely serrated or pinnately lobed. There are usually scattered fine hairs that are appressed against the upper surface of the leaves.  The central stem and upper side stems terminate in racemes of flowers about 2-6" long. Each flower is about ¾" across, consisting of 4 pinkish purple petals with branching veins, and 4 oblong sepals that are pink or purple and appressed together. Sometimes the petals are pink or white, and they have a tendency to fade in color with age. The slender pedicel of each flower is about ½" long. The blooming period usually occurs during the summer and lasts about 1½ months. There is a pleasant floral fragrance. Each flower is replaced by a seedpod about 1–1½" long that is flattened and orbicular-oblong. It has a slender stipe adjoining the pedicel, while its tip has a short slender beak. Each seedpod has a reticulated outer surface and a few seeds inside. Each flattened seed is reniform-orbicular with a narrow papery margin. The seedpods become papery and nearly white with age, and can blow about in the wind, like the seeds. This plant spreads by reseeding itself.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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