Annual herb 10 - 40 cm long Stem: angled, forking, slightly hairy. Leaves: opposite, minutely hairy along margin and sometimes short-haired, with the lower leaves more or less stalked and broadly inverted lance-shaped. The other leaves are stalkless, 1 - 7 cm long, 3 - 18 mm wide, oblong, and toothless or with a few teeth near the base. Flowers: borne terminally in a small compact cluster (glomerule), subtended by spoon-shaped bracts that are hairy along the margins, 1.5 - 2 mm across, with minute or absent sepals, white to pale bluish petals fused into a five-lobed funnel shape, and three stamens. Fruit: dry, yellowish, 2 - 4 mm long, three-chambered with one chamber fertile and one-seeded and the other chambers empty. The fertile chamber has a thick corky mass on its back.
Similar species: Valerianella species have non- or few-toothed stem leaves and tiny or absent calyx lobes. Neither Valerianella chenopodifolia nor Valerianella umbilicata have fruit with a corky mass on the fertile chamber.
Flowering: mid May to early June
Habitat and ecology: Introduced from Europe, this species is rare in disturbed areas.
Occurence in the Chicago region: non-native
Etymology: Valerianella is a diminutive of Valeriana, referring to the similarity between the two genera. Locusta means "growing in an enclosed area."
Annual 1-4 dm; lvs ciliolate and sometimes short-hairy, the lower broadly oblanceolate or broader, and ±petiolate, the others sessile and more oblong, entire or the upper with a few teeth near the base, 1-7 cm נ3-18 mm; cor white or pale bluish, 1.5-2 mm; fr 2(-4) mm, the fertile locule bearing a thick corky mass on the back; groove between the sterile locules narrow, shallow, and inconspicuous; 2n=14(-18). Moist, open places, often in disturbed soil; native of Europe, now widely established in the U.S. Apr.-June. (V. olitoria)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
This species was reported more than 60 years ago as a garden escape in Jefferson County by Barnes and by Young. There are two specimens in the herbarium of Wabash College which were collected by J. M. Coulter in 1877. In 1936 it was discovered by Miss Edna Banta in the Big Creek Bottoms about a mile west of Volga, Jefferson County. The plant is said to be cultivated for salad, although I have never seen it in cultivation.
Indiana Coefficient of Conservatism: C = null, non-native