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This herbaceous perennial plant is 1-3' tall, branching sparingly. It is relatively short-lived. The foliage consists of basal leaves and bolting stems with alternate leaves; most vegetative growth occurs during the spring. The stems are light to medium green, glabrous, and terete; sometimes they are slightly angular or slightly furrowed. The leaves are up to 5" long and 2" across, becoming smaller as they ascend the stems. They are usually more or less ovate, serrated or dentate along their margins, medium green, and glabrous. The basal leaves and lower alternate leaves are often pinnately lobed (pinnatifid); these lobes occur in 1-4 pairs near the base of each leaf. The upper stems terminate in erect racemes of flowers about 6-18" in length. Sometimes shorter racemes of flowers also develop from the axils of the upper leaves. Each flower is about ¼" (6 mm.) across, consisting of 4 petals that are pale violet to nearly white, 4 pale gray or pale violet sepals, 6 stamens with violet anthers, and a pistil with a stout style. The petals are oblanceolate in shape and longer than the sepals. The sepals are oblong in shape and usually glabrous, although the tips of sepals on young flowers are sometimes finely hairy. The pedicels of the flowers are about 6-8 mm. long, ascending, and glabrous; they are green, greenish violet, or violet. The rachises (central stalks) and peduncles (basal stalks) of the racemes are green or purplish green and glabrous. The blooming period occurs during the early summer and lasts about 3 weeks. The flowers are often fragrant, particularly in sunny locations. The flowers are replaced by glabrous siliques (narrowly cylindrical seedpods) that become about ½–1" long at maturity. Each silique contains a single row of oblongoid seeds. Immature siliques are green to dark violet. 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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