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Description

This native perennial plant is unbranched and up to 2½' tall. The central stem is ascending, rather than stiffly erect. It is green to light green, slightly hairy, and sometimes zigzags between the alternate leaves. These leaves are up to 6" long and 3" across. They are broadly ovate, smooth along the margins, and usually glabrous on the upper surface. Their venation is parallel, while at the base they are mostly sessile against the stem. The central stem terminates in a rather flat panicle of 20-80 white flowers. This panicle is about 4" long and 2" across; its whitish green stalks are softly hairy. Each flower is about 1/6" across, consisting of 6 tepals, 6 stamens, and a central pistil with a short stout style. These floral parts are white, except for the anthers of the stamens, which are cream or pale yellow. The filaments of the stamens are narrowly triangular, while the tepals are oblong-linear. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer and lasts about 3 weeks. Each flower is replaced by a few-seeded berry. Individual berries are about ¼" across and globular; they become bright red, or red and purple-striped at maturity. The root system consists of stout rhizomes with secondary fibrous roots. This plant sometimes forms loose vegetative colonies.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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