FIGWORT FAMILY - ScrophulariaceaŽ: Culver's-root; Culver's Physic
Veronica virginica (Leplandra virginica)
Flowers--Small, white or rarely bluish, crowded in dense spike-like racemes 3 to 9 in. long, usually several spikes at top of stem or from upper axils. Calyx 4-parted, very small; corolla tubular, 4-lobed; 2 stamens protruding; 1 pistil. Stem: Straight, erect, usually unbranched, 2 to 7 ft. tall. Leaves: Whorled, from 3 to 9 in a cluster, lance-shaped or oblong, and long-tapering, sharply saw-edged.
Preferred Habitat--Rich, moist woods, thickets, meadows.
Distribution--Nova Scotia to Alabama, west to Nebraska.
"The leaves of the herbage at our feet," says Ruskin, "take all
kinds of strange shapes, as if to invite us to examine them.
Star-shaped, heart-shaped, spear-shaped, arrow-shaped, fretted,
fringed, cleft, furrowed, serrated, in whorls, in tufts, in wreaths,
in spires, endlessly expressive, deceptive, fantastic, never the same
from footstalks to blossom, they seem perpetually to tempt our
watchfulness, and take delight in outstripping our wonder." Doubtless
light is the factor with the greatest effect in determining the
position of the leaves on the stem, if not their shape. After plenty
of light has been secured, any aid they may render the flowers in
increasing their attractiveness is gladly rendered. Who shall deny
that the brilliant foliage of the sumacs, the dogwood, and the
pokeweed in autumn does not greatly help them in attracting the
attention of migrating birds to their fruit, whose seeds they wish
distributed? Or that the clustered leaves of the Dwarf Cornel and
Culver's-root, among others, do not set off to great advantage their
white flowers which, when seen by an insect flying overhead, are made
doubly conspicuous by the leafy background formed by the whorl?