Leaves (1-)2-5(-15) mm wide, soft, flexible, essentially glabrous or sparsely to densely pubescent. Scape (4-)5-17(-25) cm. Inflorescences umbellate, 1-5(-7)-flowered; proximal 2 flowers, when present, always paired; bracts (1-)2-10(-17) mm. Flowers: tepals (3-)6-10(-17) × 2-4 (-5) mm, shorter than pedicel, much longer than ovary; anthers 1.5-3.5(-4) mm; ovary obconic, (1-)2-4 × (1-)2-4 mm, densely pubescent; pedicel (6-)9-25(-30) mm, usually 2+ times longer than bracts. Seeds black, lustrous, (0.9-)1-1.5(-1.7) mm, coarsely muricate.
Very rarely, specimens of Hypoxis hirsuta have cylindrical ovaries and/or bracts nearly equaling the pedicels. These specimens are recognized by the umbelliform inflorescence typical of H. hirsuta. The condition appears to be pathological and is associated with a lack of seed development.
Perennial herb flowering stem 4 - 25 cm tall Leaves: basal, to 0.6 m long and 1.5 cm wide, linear, grass-like, five- to nine-veined, and hairy. Inflorescence: an irregular umbel of two to six flowers raised on an upright stalk and sometimes subtended by small bracts. Flowers: on long stalks, yellow, irregular in size, 1 - 2.5 cm wide, star-shaped, with six tepals. Anthers six, arrowhead-shaped. Fruit: a 3 - 6 mm long, rounded, indehiscent capsule. Seeds shiny black and covered with small, sharp projections.
Similar species: No information at this time.
Flowering: late April to early July
Habitat and ecology: Common in prairies and moist calcareous meadows. Occasionally seen in woodlands that are thinned out by fire.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Etymology: Hypoxis comes from the Greek words hypo, meaning beneath, and oxys, meaning sharp, in reference to the base of the seed capsule. Hirsuta means hairy.
Lvs linear, pilose, 2-10 mm wide, to 6 dm at anthesis, the main ones 5-9-nerved; scape shorter than the lvs at anthesis, to 4 dm at maturity, bearing an irregular umbel of 2-6 fls on long pedicels; fls yellow, irregular in size, 1-2.5 cm wide; anthers deeply sagittate, the pollen-sacs divergent below; fr ellipsoid, 3-6 mm, indehiscent, containing several shiny, black, sharply muricate seeds 1-1.5 mm. Dry open woods; Me. to Man., s. to Ga. and Tex. Apr.-July. (H. leptocarpa)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
Infrequent throughout the state but usually common where it is found, especially in marshland in moist, prairie habitats. It seems to prefer an acid habitat but I have seen it growing in marly bogs with Parnassia. In southern Indiana it is found in rather sandy soil on the crests of black oak ridges, on sandstone outcrops, and in the post oak flats, while in the northern part of the state it is usually found in sandy soil at the base of black oak slopes, in mucky soil in marshes, and in moist, black sandy soil in prairies.