Stems. - Clustered, five to twelve inches high. Leaves. - The lower ones deeply incised, the upper less so. Flowers. - Yellow and red, growing in a short dense spike. Calyx. - Of one piece split in front. Corolla. - Two-lipped, the narrow upper lip arched, the lower three-lobed. Stamens. - Four. Pistil. - One.
The bright flowers of the wood betony are found in our May woods, often in the company of the columbine and yellow violet. Near Philadelphia they are said to be among the very earliest of the flowers, coming soon after the trailing arbutus. In the later year the plant attracts attention by its uncouth spikes of brown seed-pods.
Few wayside weeds have been accredited with greater virtue than the ancient betony, which a celebrated Roman physician claimed could cure forty-seven different disorders. The Roman proverb, "Sell your coat and buy betony," seems to imply that the plant did not flourish so abundantly along the Appian Way as it does by our American roadsides. Unfortunately we are • reluctantly forced to believe once more that our native flower is not identical with the classic one, but that it has received its common name through some superficial resemblance to the original betony or Betonica.