Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Melanthium virginicum L.
- Family: Lily (Liliaceae)
- Flowering: June-July
- Field Marks: The Virginia bunchflower is distinguished by its 6 free sepals and petals that
have a pair of glands at the base of each, its hairy stems, and its broadly winged, flat seeds.
- Habitat: Wet meadows, savannas, wet prairies.
- Habit: Perennial herb from thick rhizomes.
- Stems: Upright, stout, branched or unbranched, hairy, up to 5 feet tall.
- Leaves: Alternate, simple, elongated, broadly linear, pointed at the tip, tapering to the base, without teeth, smooth, up to 1 1/2 inches wide, the uppermost progressively smaller.
- Flowers: Many in an open panicle, the panicle up to 1 1/2 feet long; flowers creamy, but often becoming greenish or purplish, short-stalked.
- Sepals: 3, creamy, becoming greenish or purplish, free from each other, oblong to ovate, up to 1/3 inch long, with a pair of dark glands at the base.
- Petals: 3, creamy, becoming greenish or purplish, free from each other, oblong to ovate, up to 1/3 inch long, with a pair of dark glands at the base.
- Stamens: 6, shorter than the sepals and petals.
- Pistils: Ovary superior; styles 3.
- Fruits: Capsules ovoid, grooved, up to 3/4 inch long, with 3 beaks; seeds whitish, obovate, up to 1/3 inch long.
- Notes: This is a poisonous perennial herb.
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