The wood betony is a decidedly curly plant - the flowers are curled and so are the flower heads and bracts, and so, emphatically, are the leaves. In a curly tuft the betony springs up in the hilly woods and before April is past the plants are in bloom.
Pedicularis canadensis L.
April - May Wooded hills.
Betony is a compact, rather low yet massive plant. The Leaves are mostly basal, finely toothed and divided much in the manner of yarrow leaves. The downy stems are topped with a whorl of small, finely cut leaves and the flower head, a dense mass, has tubular, mint-like, pale yellow and red flowers. The leaves and seeding heads remain for the rest of the growing season.
Wood betony is a creature of deep woods and the rocky hills along the rivers. There it perches among the rocks where the spring earth is saturated with water, and at the height of its bloom it may be called an attractive plant. At other times it seems only somewhat untidy and overdone. In deep hilly wood- it grows beside trails and on bushy slopes, and when not in bloom it may be passed by as a low and insignificant fern.
It was said long ago, and perhaps really believed, that the sheep which fed on the betony became infested with lice. So the defenseless betony was called lousewort, and was given a Latin name which clinched that insult forever Pedicularis, named for Pedicula, the common louse.
Similar to the above in leaves and flowers is the swamp lousewort (Pedicularis lanceolata). It grows in swamps and is common throughout most of the state. The stem is from one to three feet tall and shows little branching.