Scutellaria leonardii (Leonard's Skullcap)
|Also known as:||Small Skullcap|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; average to dry sandy soil; prairies, savannas, open woods, bluffs, rock outcrops|
|Bloom season:||May - July|
|Plant height:||4 to 8 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: UPL MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Pairs of small, blue to violet, irregular flowers, ¼ to 1/3 inch (5 to 8 mm) long and wide, blooming from upper leaf axils. Flowers' outer surface is finely hairy, a broad four lobed lower lip is angled straight down with a display of blue on white dots and two lines of scattered hairs, the upper lip much smaller, forming a hood over the throat. The calyx is covered in non-glandular hairs and has a small ridge-like protrusion at the top.
On some plants, flowers may not all produce blue petals, but instead just a very small, closed white tube protruding from the calyx, a self-pollinating cleistogamous flower. Cleistogamous flowers may be even more inconspicuous than shown here.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are opposite, lance-like, angled up or spreading, short stalked or almost clasping, ½ to 2/3 inch (to 16 mm) long, ¼ to ½ inch wide, the edges toothless and curled or rolled under (see flower photo above), mostly hairless to sparsely hairy on the edges and tip, with 2 or 3 veins on each side of midrib. Stems are single or multiple from the base, square with fine downy hairs or scattered ascending hairs, especially on the angles, unbranched or few-branched, erect.
The calyx swells to a pinkish capsule containing 4 nutlets.
Seeds are about 1 millimeter long, asymmetrical but generally oval, covered on most of the surface with missile-shaped protuberances. In the center of one side is an obvious white speck of the germ.
Leonard's Skullcap is more commonly known as a variety of Scutellaria parvula (Small Skullcap, var. missouriensis) but in Minnesota it's treated as its own species. It is not uncommon in dry sandy prairies, savannas and bluffs, but has occasionally been recorded in moister habitats. S. parvula is distinguished by its glandular hairs (S. leonardii has non-glandular hairs), more oval leaves and 3 to 5 veins on each side of the mid-vein. Leonard's Skullcap establishes quite well as a small garden border in sandy soil or a rock garden.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Lost Valley SNA, Washington County. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka and Washington counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?
on: 2021-03-12 13:32:38
ITIS treats this as a synonym of S. parvula var. missouriensis. What treatment prevails?
on: 2021-03-12 19:02:23
Charles, the MN DNR's policy is to use Gleason and Cronquist nomenclature for anything not yet published in Flora of North America, so is using S. leonardii for now, but the trend appears to be what ITIS lists. According to the Bell Herbarium's annotated checklist, both var. missouriensis and var. parvula are in Minnesota, but there are no records of the latter. FWIW, BONAP does not recognize any vars at all for S. parvula.
on: 2022-06-19 18:02:42
First time seeing this plant. Along the trail to the buffalo pavilion.