Veronicastrum virginicum

Culver's root in bloom

Culver’s Root in bloom

This native perennial plant is up to 5′ tall and unbranched, except near the inflorescence. The central stem is round and smooth. Scattered along this stem are 3-7 whorled leaves. These leaves are up to 6″ long and 1½” across with serrated margins. They are ovate to narrowly ovate, and are either sessile or have short petioles. At the apex of the plant are several slender spikes of white flowers up to 8″ long, resembling a candelabra. The narrow tubular flowers are about ¼” long, from which 2 yellow or brown stamens are exerted. These flowers are crowded together all around each spike, blooming from the bottom up. They have no scent.

The blooming period usually occurs from early to mid-summer, and lasts about a month. The tiny seeds can be carried several feet away from the mother plant by the wind. The root system consists of a central taproot and some rhizomes, which enable vegetative reproduction.

The most common visitors to the flowers are long-tongued and short-tongued bees, which collect pollen or suck nectar. This includes honeybees, bumblebees, Mason bees, Green Metallic bees, Masked bees, and others.

Phenophases

  1. First Flower: Date the first flowers are fully open. When open, you will see the stamens among the unfolded petals.
  2. Full Flower: Date when half or more of the flowers are completely open
  3. First Ripe Fruit: Date when you notice the first fruits becoming fully ripe or seeds dropping naturally from the plant. Ripening is indicated by the berries turning red, yellow, orange, or maroon.
  4. Full Fruiting: Date when half or more of the fruits are completely ripe or seeds are dropping naturally from the plant.
  5. All Leaves Withered: Date when most or all of the leaves that developed this season, have lost green color or are dried and dead.

Information from: www.wildflower.org and www.illinoiswildflowers.info

 

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