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Parthenium integrifolium

Parthenium integrifolium

Parthenium integrifolium

Parthenium integrifolium (Wild Quinine) is an upright, clump-forming perennial boasting broad, flat-topped clusters of white, button-like flowers from late spring to late summer. Resembling small white pearls from a distance, each flower head features five cute tiny ray flowers. Long-lasting, they withstand extreme weather. They turn brown, almost black, in late fall and remain architectural as they stand into winter. The charming blossoms are borne atop sturdy stems emerging from a thickened, tuberous rootstock. They rise above a rosette of large, coarsely toothed, aromatic leaves. Since it self-sows prolifically, Wild Quinine is best planted in mass in naturalistic meadows or in prairie reconstructions. Wild Quinine was used as a substitute for the bark of the Cinchona tree during World War I, with the goal of supplying quinine to treat malaria.

Parthenium integrifolium

The preference is full sun and mesic conditions. However, a small amount of shade is tolerated, and the soil can vary from moist to slightly dry. A fertile loamy soil is preferred, although the presence of some sand or rocky material is tolerated. While established plants are fairly easy to grow, recent transplants can be temperamental. It is important to put the transplants into the ground after danger of hard frost has passed, but before the period of active growth occurs during the late spring and early summer. Foliar disease isn't a significant problem. During a drought, some of the lower leaves may turn yellow and wither away.

Don't be put off by the lack of conspicuous ray florets on the flowerheads – they are still quite showy, resembling small white pearls from a distance. The leaves are admittedly rather coarse, but they possess characteristics that help this plant to survive in the prairie (as well as one's flower garden). Because of the unique flowerheads, this plant can be confused with no other species in Illinois; there are some close relatives that occur in other states, however. Wild Quinine was used as a substitute for the bark of the Cinchona tree during World War I, when the supply of the latter was disrupted; this was an attempt to maintain the supply of quinine to treat malaria. (Source: www.illinoiswildflowers.info)

 

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