Hackelia virginiana (Virginia Stickseed)
|Also known as:||Beggar's-lice, Sticktight|
|Life cycle:||annual, biennial|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; upland woods, thickets|
|Bloom season:||June - August|
|Plant height:||2 to 3 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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The white to pale blue flowers are tiny, saucer-shaped to tubular, around 1/8 inch across with five round petals and a ring of arch-shaped appendages around the throat. Shorter, narrow, lance-like sepals, usually longer than the floral tube, alternate with the petals. The blossoms open progressively along slender, horizontal racemes at the tips of the branches; racemes elongate up to 6 inches as the plant matures. A larger leaf-like bract is set at the base of the raceme with subsequent bracts becoming smaller and alternating with the flowers until about the middle of the raceme; beyond the middle they become minute or missing.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are alternate, toothless and thin, with a soft texture from short hairs. Basal leaves are stalked, oblong to oval with a rounded tip, withering away before the plant starts to bloom. The stem leaves are broadly lance-elliptic, tapered sharply on both ends, up to 8 inches long and 1 to 4 inches wide, the lower leaves short stalked, upper leaves becoming progressively smaller and stalkless. Stems are stout and erect, typically single but much branched, with short soft hairs throughout both stems and leaves.
It is doubtful anyone has taken many autumn walks in the woods without sooner or later ending up with a kazillion of these sticky seeds on their legs or socks as well as their pet's hair. H. virginiana has a very similar native look-a-like: H. deflexa (Nodding Stickseed) that differs only in having more slender and smaller leaves, roughly hairy rather than softly hairy, and the sticky prickles on the fruit are arranged only along the edges of each nutlet. An obsolete Latin name for Virginia Stickseed is Lappula virginiana.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Virginia Stickseed plant
- early spring rosette
- seeds stick tight!
- H. virginiana seed vs. H. deflexa seed
- more flowers
Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Ramsey County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?