Scrophularia lanceolata (Lance-leaf Figwort)

Plant Info
Also known as: Early Figwort, Hare Figwort
Family:Scrophulariaceae (Figwort)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; open woods, thickets, roadsides, railroads, open fields
Bloom season:June - July
Plant height:2 to 6 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Flower shape: tubular Cluster type: panicle

[photo of flowers] Short, open, branching clusters oppositely attached on the upper stem. Flowers are ¼ to 1/3 inch long, about ¼ inch across, tubular with a round base and 5 rounded lobes. The 2 upper lobes are longest, extend straight out and are shiny reddish brown to reddish green on the outside. A lower lobe folds down and is typically green. 4 stout, yellow stamens and a single slender, blunt-tipped style poke out of the mouth near the lower lobe, and a sterile stamen hugs the inside of the upper lobes. The sterile stamen is green with a fan-shaped tip, usually wider than long.

[photo of flower stalk hairs, sepals and upper lobes] Flower stalks are variously covered in minute glandular hairs. Sepals have 5 triangular lobes.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are up to 8 inches long and 3 inches wide, with a sharply pointed tip, sharp coarse teeth, and stalks up to 1¼ inch long that are less than 1/3 the length of the leaf blade and are narrowly winged. The base of the leaf is straight, slightly tapering, or broadly rounded. Attachment is opposite and there are often smaller leaves in the axils.

[photo of stem] The stem is erect, stout, hairless to minutely hairy, and 4-sided with the sides flat or shallowly grooved.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a dull brown, teardrop-shaped capsule up to about 1/3 inch long. Inside are numerous tiny black seeds. When ripe the capsule splits in 2.


Lance-leaf Figwort isn't a very showy flower, but pollinators love it. Before it flowers the leaves looks similar to Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica), but there are no stinging hairs on the leaves. The flowers are much like the related Maryland Figwort (Scrophularia marilandica), which has leaves that often have heart-shaped bases and longer stalks (to 2 inches), the sterile stamen in the flower is purple with a narrow tip, usually longer than wide, and the stem is more deeply grooved on the sides.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Jim - Kasota, Lake Washington
on: 2010-06-20 19:33:35

2nd mystery plant of the year....about 3 stands of this, did not notice these last year.

Posted by: Lynn - Webster MN
on: 2011-07-13 09:49:22

Found this plant growing near a building on our old farmstead about three years ago. It has come back from the roots every year since but I haven't found anymore growing in the area. The flowers attract wasps but I haven't seen bees on it.

Posted by: Ava - Mound
on: 2012-05-20 11:42:39

This is on city land, Twin Parks. It is a piece of land that is naturally a drainage to Lake Minnetonka. It was bulldozed and flattened with large drainage pipe underneath. Since the disturbance in the land, garlic mustard, stinging nettle, and burdock are taking over. Even so there is an amazing diversity in this unprotected spot.

Posted by: Karla - Nowthen, Anoka County
on: 2014-06-11 21:38:42

One plant growing in my meadow. 5' 4" tall

Posted by: Molly - Prairie Wetlands Learning Center, Otter Tail County
on: 2015-06-08 16:11:37

Found flowering in the Mallard Oaks (savanna) while removing buckthorn today. Just one or two plants.

Posted by: Hedera - Adj to Glendalough SP, on W Battle Lake, Ottertail County
on: 2015-09-18 13:17:26

Flowering 6-12-2015. Single plant, 4.5 ft tall in partial shade of Burr Oak.

Posted by: Erica T - Villa Park Roseville
on: 2017-06-06 09:45:07

Was surprised by this find in an area that is near a wetland in Villa Park. Blooming now - two plants. I hope it spreads.

Posted by: Carolyn C - Miss. River Gorge at 36th St. in Longfellow, Mpls
on: 2017-06-11 03:42:37

Several of these plants are in bloom right now in this location.

Posted by: Jeanne L - Minneapolis
on: 2017-06-14 15:21:27

Have also heard this called "American Figwort"

Posted by: Pam Los - Stearns county
on: 2017-07-01 10:19:27

Bumble bees are trolling this plant on the south side of my home. They are coming and going constantly. The small flowers must have lots of nectar!

Posted by: Michele K - Two Harbors
on: 2017-09-02 16:51:53

Near Pequawyan Lake.

Posted by: Kent Scheer - Wadena City
on: 2019-01-25 11:51:39

One plant appeared in a garden. When seen as a solo example it has a fine architectural shape. The flowers seem almost bizarre

Posted by: Carole Peter - Meeker County; wooded; Litchfield waterfowl prot area
on: 2020-06-07 09:26:15

Fortunately, one plant on the group had just started flowering, or I'd have assumed it was nettles! ( good disguise! ). This was in a small floodplain riverine area about 1 mile west of Greenleaf Lake. I've not seen this MN before, so exciting for me. I hope to plant some in my wetland edge informal "garden" now, seeing as it attracts pollinators.

Posted by: Carol Huston - Prior Lake
on: 2020-06-14 14:39:47

I just found this lone plant in my yard today. My daughter identified it with an app as Lance-leafed Figwort. It stands about 5 1/2 ft tall and its flowers are beginning to open.

Posted by: Mike - Eden Prairie/Hennepin County
on: 2021-06-01 22:04:45

Have a lone plant in the midst of hosta plants under the deck over hang that is in the shade 99% of the time. It seems to be doing fine as it is over 4 feet tall.

Posted by: Peter - Washington County
on: 2021-06-21 16:44:28

I've never seen this in our woods before, but it's suddenly everywhere. It seems to like the same conditions as white snakeroot, as I see the two growing in clumps together fairly frequently.

Posted by: Marlys Anderson - Meeker County, Litchfield, MN
on: 2021-07-01 10:20:17

I have a few plants growing in my hosta shade garden. I did not plant it- just appeared. It is near a large clump of Joe Pye Weed and Monarch Butterflies LOVE it!

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2021-07-01 10:50:56

Marlys, I have figwort in my garden and it is constantly covered with bees and wasps. Pollinator magnet!

Posted by: Jean Adair - Chisago County
on: 2022-08-26 12:33:19

Grows well in unmowed strip alongside our gravel lane. We live near the Sunrise River between North Branch and Lindstrom.

Posted by: bruce honnigford - Minnetonka
on: 2023-05-22 20:00:53

Just discoverd one of these growing in my front yard in Minnetonka. It's nice when a native appears out of nowhere when we are besiged with so many invasives.

Posted by: Mike - Bloomington
on: 2023-06-18 16:00:07

Two of these showed up in our garden. They send up stalks full of tiny flowers that tower above nearby plants and are favorite stops for hummingbirds.

Posted by: Carol - Franconia Township
on: 2023-07-09 11:41:55

I just saw this mystery plant in a windbreak alongside a pasture fence. We're right on the Washington/Chisago County line. Very interesting to identify it.

Posted by: Gay - Loring Park area/Yale Pl
on: 2024-03-10 12:45:15

I would like to plant Scrophularia lanceolata in our Loring Greenway garden. Can't seem to find stores selling seeds.

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2024-03-10 13:08:10

Gay, local retailers aren't likely to carry this so check online native plant nurseries such as Prairie Moon.

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