Kickxia elatine (L.) Dum.

Cancer Root

Kickxia elatine plant

Family - Scrophulariaceae

Stems - From a large taproot, multiple from base, central stem erect, lateral stems ascending, all stems branching, herbaceous, to 70cm long, pubescent with both short and long hairs. Some of the hairs glandular.

Kickxia elatine stem

Leaves - Alternate, short-petiolate. Petiole to 5mm long, pubescent as the stem. Blades generally ovate, toothed or lobed in lower 1/2 to 2/3, to 3cm long and broad, pubescent above and below, rounded to subacute at the apex. Leaves greatly reduced upward and becoming acute and densely pubescent.

Inflorescence - Single axillary flowers along the length of the stem. Pedicels thin, mostly spreading at 90 degrees to the stem, +/-2cm long, pubescent.

Kickxia elatine inflorescence

Flowers - Corolla spurred, bilabiate. Spur to 8mm long, densely pubescent, exserted from between the bottom two calyx lobes, reflexed at maturity. Upper lip 2-lobed. Lobes purple, rounded at apex, to 3mm long, pubescent externally, glabrous internally. Lower lip irregular, yellow at apex, pubescent internally and externally, shallowly 3-lobed. Stamens 4, included under the upper lip of the corolla, adnate at the base of the corolla tube, didynamous, apically connate. Filaments greenish-white, to 4mm long, pilose. Anthers purple, pubescent on margins, -1mm long. Ovary superior, subtended by a green ring-like nectary, pubescent, green, globose, 1mm in diameter, 2-locular. Placentation axial. Ovules many. Style pubescent, 2.1mm long, greenish-white, slightly swollen below the stigma. Calyx 5-lobed to weakly bilabiate. Lobes lanceolate, acute, densely pubescent externally and internally, to 4mm long, -2mm broad. Calyx tube to -1mm long. Upper lip 3-lobed. Lower lip 2-lobed.

Kickxia elatine flower

Kickxia elatine flower

Flowering - May - October.

Habitat - Sand and gravel bars along streams, streambanks, waste ground, railroads.

Origin - Native to Europe.

Other info. - This species can be found throughout the lower 1/2 of Missouri. Another species, K. spuria (L.) Dum., is sometimes recognized but is probably synonymous with K. elatine.

Photographs taken on the shores of the Current River, Shannon County, MO., 7-18-03.