Friday, April 25, 2008

Wood Betony

Wood Betony (Pedicularis canadensis)

A native perennial that ranges from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico in central and eastern North American. Most of the online wildflower guides we read said Wood Betony has yellow or brownish red flowers. We say that the blooms on the P. canadensis in our woods are white or purple. We're sure it's the same plant, though. The flower shapes and fern-like leaves are unmistakable. (The Wildflowers of Arkansas field guide does say Wood Betony's flowers are greenish-yellow or reddish-purple. We'll go along with that. Evidently, flower color varies somewhat by location and/or soil conditions.)

From Illinois Wildflowers: The "flowers bloom from the bottom up during late spring; this blooming period lasts about 3 weeks. There is a mild floral fragrance that is not always detectable to the human nose, although bees and other insects can detect it. The flowers are replaced by large fruits that are angular and hairy. The root system consists of a taproot, and lateral roots that are parasitic on the roots of grasses and possibly other plants. Wood Betony, however, is capable of normal growth and development even when suitable host plants are unavailable. This plant often forms colonies by reseeding itself."

Another common name for Wood Betony is Lousewort. The Native Plant Information Netwook says: "The genus name, from the Latin pediculus (a louse), and the common name Lousewort, refer to the misconception once held by farmers that cattle and sheep become infested with lice when grazing on the plants."



Anonymous said...

Wow these are colorful and the texture is neat. I have some plants similar in blue but nothing quite like these.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Hmmmmm I am not familiar with this plant. It is very pretty.

Lana Gramlich said...

What a strange & lovely plant! Nature is sometimes amazing in its organization.

Stacey Olson said...

Beautiful, I love the pinwheel look to them.. thanks for sharing!

smilnsigh said...

So delicate and pretty. But what a name... Lousewort. >,-)


Tom said...

Nice to see a plant I would never get to see around here.. interesting to the colour change noticed in your area.. hopefully all the gold and oil you have underground on your land causes that.. :o)

Anonymous said...

Oh, now... that's a pretty little thing. I'll have to see if it can be found around here!

Anonymous said...

What a cool plant and never seen anything like this before!