MINT FAMILY - Labiatae: Mad-dog Skullcap or Helmet-flower; Mad weed; Hoodwort
Flowers--Blue, varying to whitish; several or many, 1/4 in. long, growing in axils of upper leaves or in 1-sided spike-like racemes. Calyx 2-lipped, the upper lip with a helmet-like protuberance; corolla 2-lipped; the lower, 3-lobed lip spreading; the middle lobe larger than the side ones. Stamens, 4, in pairs, under the upper lip; upper pair the shorter; 1 pistil, the style unequally cleft in two. Stem: Square, smooth, leafy, branched, 8 in. to 2 ft. high. Leaves: Opposite, oblong to lance-shaped, thin, toothed, on slender pedicles, 1 to 3 in. long, growing gradually smaller toward top of stem. Fruit: 4 nutlets.
Preferred Habitat--Wet, shady ground.
Distribution--Uneven throughout United States and the British Possessions.
By the helmet-like appendage on the upper lip of the calyx, which to
the imaginative mind of Linnaeus suggested Scutellum (a little
dish), which children delight to spring open for a view of the four
tiny seeds attached at the base when in fruit, one knows this to be a
member of the skullcap tribe, a widely scattered genus of blue and
violet two-lipped flowers, some small to the point of insignificance,
like the present species, others showy enough for the garden, but all
rich in nectar, and eagerly sought by their good friends, the bees.
The Larger or Hyssop Skullcap (S. integrifolia) rarely has a dent in its rounded oblong leaves, which, like the stem, are covered with fine down. Its lovely, bright blue flowers, an inch long, the lips of about equal length, are grouped opposite each other at the top of a stem that never lifts them higher than two feet; and so their beauty is often concealed in the tall grass of roadsides and meadows and the undergrowth of woods and thickets, where they bloom from May to August, from southern New England to the Gulf of Mexico, westward to Texas.