Lygodesmia juncea (Skeletonweed)
|Also known as:||Rush Skeleton-plant|
|Habitat:||sun; dry prairies, fields. plains, roadsides, railroads|
|Bloom season:||June - August|
|Plant height:||6 to 18 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Single flowers at the tips of branching stems. Flowers are pink to lavender (rarely white), ½ to ¾ inch across with (usually) 5 petals that have several small teeth at the tip. At the base of a petal is a column with short stamens and a long protruding style with a divided, arching tip.
Leaves and stems:
Lower leaves are stiff, linear, ½ to 2 inches long, less than 1/8 inch wide, toothless, hairless, pointed at the tip, and stalkless, becoming smaller as they ascend the stem and reduced to scales in the upper plant. Stems are green, stiff, hairless and much branched, the branches mostly erect to ascending.
While Skeletonweed is not uncommon, it is easily overlooked when flowers are not opened, the spindly, seemingly leafless stems inconspicuous in surrounding vegetation, though it can take on a somewhat bushy appearance from its numerous branches. It is often seen with round galls along the stems, made by a small wasp. Similar is the rare Annual Skeletonweed (Shinnersoseris rostrata), which has much longer, broader leaves that wither away, and flowers with 6 or more petals that lack the teeth at the tip and do not spread fully open.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Ordway Prairie, Pope County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Garrison, North Dakota.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?