Ellisia nyctelea L. - Aunt Lucy

Ellisia nyctelea plant

Family - Hydrophyllaceae

Stems - Fleshy, hollow, from a large fleshy taproot, glaucous, glabrous to sparsely pubescent near the nodes, to +30cm tall, herbaceous, erect to ascending, multiple from the base.

Ellisia nyctelea stem

Leaves - Alternate, petiolate. Petioles to 2cm long, pubescent. Blade pinnatifid, pubescent above and below, to 8cm long, 5cm broad. Main leaf divisions toothed or with pointed lobes. Margins ciliate.

Ellisia nyctelea leaf

Inflorescence - Single flowers opposite the upper leaves. Also in terminal loose panicles. Pedicels greatly elongated in fruit, hirsute.

Flowers - Corolla tubular, cylindric, 6-7mm long, 3mm in diameter, glabrous externally and internally, 5-lobed, whitish to blue. Corolla tube to 4mm long. Lobes rounded at the apex, -2mm broad, 2.5mm long. Stamens 5, alternating with the corolla lobes, included, adnate at the base of the corolla tube. Filaments 1.3mm long, glabrous. Anthers brown, .5mm long. Ovary covered with long white bristles, superior, subtended by a ring of nectaries. Style forked at the apex. Calyx deeply 5-lobed. Lobes spreading, lanceolate, to 8mm long, 3mm broad in flower, accrescent, pubescent. Fruit biglobose, fleshy, with bristles.

Ellisia nyctelea calyxCalyx.

Ellisia nyctelea flowerCorolla close-up.

Flowering - April - June.

Habitat - Moist woods, thickets, flood plains, stream banks, waste ground, cultivated areas, disturbed sites.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Other info. - This little species is easy to identify in the field. Its pinnatifid leaves and tubular corollas are good characteristics for identification. The plant is common throughout much of Missouri but is less common in the extreme southeast corner of the state.
The flowers of this species can be white but typically have at least a blue tinge.

Photographs taken at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area, Boone County, MO., 4-18-04.


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