Scutellaria galericulata (Marsh Skullcap)

Plant Info
Also known as: Common Skullcap
Family:Lamiaceae (Mint)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist to wet soil; meadows, floodplains, shores, marshes, swamps, bogs, fens, floating mats
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:12 to 30 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
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

[photo of flowers] Flowers are tubular, irregular trumpet shaped, ½ to ¾ inch (1 to 2 cm) long, borne in pairs from opposite leaf axils along the stem. Petals are blue to violet, covered with fine hairs with a broad, wavy lower lip patterned with blue dots against a white throat. The upper lip forms a rounded hood over the mouth of the tube. Flowers typically bloom 2 to 3 pairs at a time from axils a bit below the tip of a stem. The calyx holding the flower has a small ridge-like protuberance at the top.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are ¾ to 2¼ inches (2 to 6 cm) long, ¼ to ¾ inch wide, opposite, lance-like to more oval and oblong, toothed with rounded or bluntly pointed teeth, veiny, somewhat glossy on the upper surface with soft short hairs on the underside, and little or no leaf stalk. Stems are square with fine rough hairs on the angles. Branches are many, weak but erect, often supported by surrounding vegetation.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

Fruit is a spherical cluster of 4 brown nutlets that forms inside the persistent calyx.


Marsh skullcap is a common species of wetlands, lakeshores and riverways throughout Minnesota but not always apparent. The progression of seasonal growth and blooming branches are intertwined with other wetland species making them difficult to spot (and more difficult to photograph!). Another skullcap found in the same habitat is Mad-dog Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), which has racemes of flowers about half the size and without the blue-spotted lower lip, and with broader leaves.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Anoka County.


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

Posted by: Jill - Itasca County
on: 2013-08-08 06:19:58

Found on the edge of a boggy area in northeastern Itasca County.

Posted by: grikdog - St. Paul
on: 2014-06-29 17:20:03

I've been wondering what this was. It popped up in a small bog garden I made in my yard. The same plant comes back every year but has not spread at all.

Posted by: Karl - north side of Isabella Lake (BWCA)
on: 2015-07-12 21:22:00

found among grasses in a swampy area. the flowers were very similar, as were the leaf shape, but the leaf texture was smoother - deep long veins but not the many small defined areas.

Posted by: linda - Hythecker S & N area
on: 2015-08-22 09:17:52

Found on 8-8-15 on guided tour of area

Posted by: Tamia Cramer - Blue Hill Township, Zimmerman
on: 2019-06-25 22:15:05

Across from the Sherburne Wildlife Refuge. It popped up last year in my front door flower bed, I let it seed and now my bed is covered. Love them. June 2019

Posted by: Sherrie Hood - Mickey Elverum Bog Walk as you enter Orr MN
on: 2020-07-12 17:53:07

There were a few noticeable at the edge of the boardwalk. Identified by SEEK.

Posted by: Allison Jurek - Standford Township, Isanti County
on: 2022-06-26 20:15:20

Southeast Isanti county along the edge of a pond on our property. First time we've spotted it!

Posted by: Tessa Capelle - Birch Lake, Hiram Township
on: 2022-08-12 15:26:23

First time seeing this on our shoreline.

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