This perennial plant is 1-3′ tall, producing occasional side branches. Leadplant is usually semi-erect; in partially shaded situations. With age, it becomes increasing woody, assuming that growth and development are not disrupted by occasional fires or browsing from animals. The young stems are light green and covered with white hairs. The compound leaves are whitish to greyish green, depending on the intensity of sunlight reaching the plant. Sometimes fine hairs cover the plant to the extent that it appears to be heavily dusted with white lead, hence its name. The compound leaves are bipinnate, 4-12″ long, and may have up to 50 small leaflets, each about ½” long and ¼” wide. The small flowers occur along pubescent spikes, about 2-6″ long, at the ends of major branches. These flowers range in color from light to dark purple. Each flower has a single upper petal, which is tubular at first, but later unfolds horizontally to protect the reproductive parts. There are also 8 exerted reddish stamens with bright yellow anthers that are quite conspicuous. There is little or no floral scent. The blooming period occurs from early to mid-summer and lasts about 3 weeks. The central root occasionally branches, and can extend 15 ft. or more into the soil.
- 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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