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This perennial wildflower is ½-1½' tall and either branched or unbranched. The slender stem(s) is light green to purple. Alternate leaves about ½-2" long and 1-5 mm. across occur along the stem(s). The leaves are light to medium green, linear to linear-oblong in shape, and usually smooth along their margins. The central stem and any lateral stems terminate in racemes of flowers; the flowers are distributed sparsely along the rachis of each raceme. Each flower is ¼-½" across, consisting of a 2-lipped tubular corolla that is light blue (rarely white), a bell-shaped (campanulate) calyx with 5 slender teeth that are light green to purple, 5 stamens, and a 2-celled ovary with a single style. The stamens tightly surround the style. The upper lip of the corolla is divided into 2 small narrow lobes, while the lower lip is divided into 3 large lobes. At the base of the corolla's lower lip, there is a conspicuous patch of white; sometimes this patch becomes yellow along its upper boundary near the throat of the corolla. The corolla is hairless throughout, while sometimes the bottom of the calyx is pubescent. The slender pedicels of the flowers are ¼-1" long; they are light green to purple and either glabrous or minutely pubescent. Toward the middle of each pedicel there is a tiny linear bractlet; at the base of each pedicel there is a linear bract that is about the same length as the pedicel. The blooming period occurs from mid-summer to early fall and lasts about 1 month. Afterwards, the flowers are replaced by seed capsules about 4 mm. across; each capsule splits open at its apex to release numerous tiny seeds that are narrowly oblongoid and compressed (somewhat flattened) in shape. The seeds are small enough to be blown about by the wind or transported by water. The root system is shallow and fibrous.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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