Leucospora multifida (Michx.) Nutt.

Narrowleaf Paleseed

Leucospora_multifida_plant1.jpg
STATS

Native
CC = 3
CW = -3
MOC = 64

© DETenaglia

Family - Plantaginaceae

Habit - Annual forb with slender taproot.

Stems - Ascending to erect, to 20 cm, unbranched to freely branched, densely pubescent with short, spreading, glandular hairs.

Leucospora_multifida_stem.jpg Stem.

© DETenaglia

Leaves - Opposite, mostly long-petiolate, the petiole winged. Leaf blades 1-3 cm long, 1 or 2 times more or less pinnately deeply lobed or parted, broadly triangular-ovate in outline, the ultimate segments linear to narrowly oblong or narrowly oblanceolate, rounded or bluntly to sharply pointed at the tips, the margins otherwise mostly entire, the surfaces moderately to densely pubescent with short, gland-tipped hairs, the venation overall pinnate, each lobe or segment with a single vein.

Leucospora_multifida_leaves1.jpg Leaves.

© SRTurner

Leucospora_multifida_pressed_leaves.jpg Pressed leaves.

© DETenaglia

Inflorescence - Axillary, of solitary or paired flowers, the flower stalks 3-7 mm long at flowering, not or only slightly elongated at fruiting. Bractlets absent.

Leucospora_multifida_inflorescence.jpg Inflorescence.

© SRTurner

Flowers - Perfect. Calyces 2.5-4.0 mm long, becoming elongated to 3.5-5.5 mm at fruiting, deeply 5-lobed nearly to the base, nearly actinomorphic, the lobes linear to narrowly lanceolate, rounded to bluntly pointed at the tip, glandular-hairy. Corollas 3-5 mm long, bilabiate, 5-lobed, the upper lip shallowly 2-lobed, more or less spreading to somewhat recurved, the lower lip more deeply 3-lobed, slightly spreading, glabrous, the tube longer than the lobes, white to pale cream-colored, but usually at least partially pale pinkish- to lavender-tinged, the tube lacking a spur, the throat open, with yellow markings and often small red spots. Fertile stamens 4, the filaments of 2 lengths, not exserted, the anther sacs more or less parallel; staminodes absent. Filaments to 1.3 mm long, white, glabrous. Anthers pale yellow to white. Style 1, not exserted, 2-lobed, the stigmas wedge-shaped. Ovary superior, green, glabrous, 1 mm long in flower, ovoid, 2-locular. Ovules numerous. Placentation axile.

Leucospora_multifida_calyx.jpg Calyx (and no bractlets).

© SRTurner

Leucospora_multifida_flower2.jpg Flower.

© DETenaglia

Leucospora_multifida_flower.jpg Corolla and calyx.

© DETenaglia

Fruits - Capsules, 3.5-4.5 mm long, ovoid, more or less circular in cross-section, thin-walled, glabrous, the 2 locules equal in size, dehiscent longitudinally along 2 sutures. Seeds numerous, 0.2-0.4 mm long, oblong-ovoid, more or less circular in cross-section, the surface pale greenish yellow.

Flowering - May - October.

Habitat - Streambanks, pond margins, swamps, crop fields, gardens, railroads, roadsides, open disturbed areas.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Lookalikes - Ellisia nyctelea, Gratiola neglecta.

Other info. - This is one of those plants that many people would see as a weed in need of a good shower of Roundup™. Closer inspection, however, reveals a neat little plant with very nice yet small flowers. The plant can be found throughout most of the southern 2/3 of Missouri, and most of the U.S. Midwest. Identification is fairly straightforward from the lacy leaves, extensive glandularity, and tiny pale flowers. It is sometimes confused with Ellisia nyctelea, but that species has more classically pinnatifid leaves, and lacks glandular hairs. Another lookalike, Gratiola neglecta, has bractlets immediately behind the calyx of each flower. These are absent in Leucospora multifida.

A synonym is Conobea multifida (Michx.) Benth. Naturally, following the popularity of a certain movie franchise, the plant acquired the lighthearted colloquial name "Obi-Wan conobea."

Photographs taken on the Current River, Shannon County, MO., 7-15-03 (DETenaglia); also at Shaw Nature Reserve, Franklin County, MO, 7-17-2015, and near Labadie, Franklin County, MO, 9-3-2019 (SRTurner).