Pedicularis, relating to lice; long supposed to breed lice in sheep that feed on the plant.
Perennial. Found in sprawling clusters on sandy knolls in moist woods, on dry roadside banks. Nova Scotia to Manitoba, south to Florida and Mississippi, west to Colorado. Common in northern Ohio. April, May.
Several, that spring from the centre of a tuft of clustered, sprawling leaves, stout, hairy, sparingly leafy, from six to eighteen inches high.
Scattered on the stem, oblong-lanceolate, pinnately parted into obtuse, deeply cut, or dentate lobes.
Two-lipped, greenish yellow and purplish red, in a thick, tousled, leafy terminal spike.
Tubular, oblique, split in front; two or three minute scallops on upper side.
Two-lipped; upper lip arched, concave, with two tiny teeth at the apex, between which extends the slender pistil; the lower lip three-lobed.
Four, grouped beneath the arch of the upper lip; filaments hair-like; anthers large.
One; style long, slender, protruding from the upper lip.
Pollinated by bumblebees. Nectar-bearing.
Many species of Pedicularis are found in and west of the Rocky Mountains; in the Eastern States there are but three reported, of which the Wood Betony,
Pedicularis Canadensis, is one of our April flowers. This species particularly delights to grow on sandy knolls in open woods or in swampy lowlands, where it may enjoy a humid atmosphere, thus combining dry feet with a moist head. It grows in patches and the general effect of a blooming area is a leafy, tousled mass of sprawling, fern-like leaves and blooming heads, the color of the flowers creeping into leaves and stems and a general dishevelled air pervading all. The individual flower is extremely interesting. In the first place, it is two-lipped, always an interesting form, and the color scheme varies from golden brown to reddish purple, from pale yellow to white.
After the flowering season the spike lengthens several inches, and the fruit ripens as a head of stiff, brown capsules.
Wood Betony. Pedicularis Canadensis