This native perennial plant is 2-6′ tall and unbranched, except sometimes toward the apex, where the flowers occur. The central stem is relative stout, pale green, terete, and usually short-pubescent (less often glabrous). The opposite leaves are up to 8″ long and 3½” wide, broadly oblong in shape, and smooth along their margins. The upper leaf surface is pale-medium to dark green and hairless above, while the lower leaf surface is densely covered with woolly hairs that are very short. There is a prominent central vein along the length of each leaf, and finer side veins that radiate outward toward the smooth margins. When either the central stem or leaves are torn, a milky sap oozes out that has variable toxicity in the form of cardiac glycosides.
The flowers are very popular with many kinds of insects, especially long-tongued bees, wasps, flies, skippers, and butterflies, which seek nectar.
- First Flower: Date the first flowers are fully open. When open, you will see the stamens among the unfolded petals.
- Full Flower: Date when half or more of the flowers are completely open
- 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.
- Full Fruiting: Date when half or more of the fruits are completely ripe or seeds are dropping naturally from the plant.
- 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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