Callirhoe digitata Nutt.

Callirhoe digitata plant

Family - Malvaceae

Stems - To 1.5m tall, from a thick corm, erect, herbaceous, branching in the inflorescence, single from the base, glabrous, glaucous, terete, 5-6mm in diameter, stout.

Callirhoe digitata stem

Leaves - Alternate, petiolate, palmately compound. Petioles reduced upward, to +/-38cm long, glaucous, terete, glabrous or sparse pubescent (the hairs with pustulate bases and giving the petiole a scabrous texture). Blades palmately divided into 3-8 main segments (the segments divided again). Ultimate divisions of the lowest leaves to 5mm broad, entire, with anastomosing veins, ciliate near the base, acute, linear. Upper leaves with the ultimate divisions becoming filiform, glabrous.

Callirhoe digitata leafLower leaf.

Callirhoe digitata leafUpper leaf.

Inflorescence - Loose elongate panicles terminating the stems. Peduncles to +/-10cm long, glabrous, thin, expanding with age.

Flowers - Corolla deeply 5-lobed. Lobes 1.5-2cm long, 1.3cm broad, obovate, rounded to truncate at the apex, glabrous, wine-colored, glabrous except for two tufts of white hairs at the base, joined at the base and forming the staminal column of the flower. Staminal column +/-1cm long, pubescent, whitish. The free portion of the filaments to 2-3mm long. Anthers pinkish, -1mm long. Styles +/-15, white, united in the basal 1/4, glabrous, +/-1cm long, not much exceeding the anther column but surrounded by it. Ovary light green, 3mm broad in flower (quickly expanding in fruit), typically 15-carpellate, one ovule per carpel. Calyx tube campanulate, 5mm long, 5-lobed, glabrous. Lobes acute to acuminate, 5-7mm long, +/-3mm broad at the base, 3-nerved, with minute glands externally (use lens to see), densely lanate on the margins internally (otherwise glabrous internally). Calyx accrescent.

Callirhoe digitata flowerOpen flower.

Callirhoe digitata flowerPartially closed flower (typically seen like this).

Callirhoe digitata fruitDeveloping fruit.

Flowering - May - September.

Habitat - Rocky prairies, glades, meadows.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This striking prairie species can be found mainly in the southwest corner of Missouri but is also found in a handful of other scattered counties. The plant is easy to identify because of its palmately divided leaves, glabrous and glaucous stems, erect habit, and wine-colored flowers. This is a perennial species which would make and excellent garden subject. It grows well from seed.

Photographs taken at Robert E. Talbot Conservation Area, Lawrence County, MO., 7-4-03.