Onosmodium bejariense (False Gromwell)
|Also known as:||Soft-hair Marbleseed, Western Marbleseed|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; dry sandy or rocky soil; prairies, open woods, bluffs|
|Bloom season:||June - July|
|Plant height:||1 to 4 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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A 1-sided raceme to 6 inches long of nodding, short-stalked tubular flowers. Flowers are mostly white, ½ to ¾ inch long, with 5 hairy, green to yellow-tinged, triangular lobes at the tip that close the mouth of the tube. A long white style projects from the tube like a large stinger; the style remains long after the petals wilt away.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are 2 to 4 inches long, ½ to 1½ inches wide, lance to narrowly egg-shaped, bristly hairy, toothless and stalkless, with several deep veins, alternately attached, reduced to bracts in the upper plant. Stems are covered in spreading, bristly hairs. Multiple stems arise from a woody root, often branching in the upper plant.
False Gromwell is a fairly common species of dry to mesic sandy or gravelly prairies and open woods. It is a fairly distinctive species, but the taxonomy of this species seems to be far from settled; it's been known as a single species with 4 varieties (or subspecies) as well as 4 separate species and, depending on the reference, goes under genus Lithospermum or Onosmodium. As of this writing, the taxonomy most often cited is Onosmodium bejariense with 4 varieties, 2 of which are in Minnesota:
- var. hispidissimum (a.k.a. Lithospermum parviflorum, Onosmodium molle var. hispidissimum, O. hispidissimum, O. carolinianum) can reach heights up to 4 feet, is quite coarsely and densely hairy, has flowers with a shorter tube, calyx lobes about as long as the floral tube, and dull, collared nutlets not more than 3 mm long.
- var. occidentale (a.k.a. L. occidentale, O. molle var. occidentale, O. occidentale), is the more common, a smaller plant, more loosely hairy, has flowers with a longer tube, calyx lobes much shorter than the tube, and shiny, uncollared nutlets more than 3 mm long.
The two varieties not found in Minnesota, var. subsetosum and var. bejariense, both have a limited range in the south-central states, the former a hairless to sparsely hairy plant, the latter with appressed hairs, flowers with long, tapering lobes at the tip and nutlets with a pitted texture.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken in Lac Qui Parle WMA. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Lac Qui Parle and Dakota counties.
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