Scrophularia marilandica (Maryland Figwort)

Plant Info
Also known as: Late Figwort, Carpenter's Square, Eastern Figwort
Family:Scrophulariaceae (Figwort)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade, sun; rich, open woods, woodland edges, thickets, stream banks
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:2 to 10 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU 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] Open, branching clusters oppositely attached at the top of the stem and arising from upper leaf axils. 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 green or reddish. 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 mostly dark purple with a narrow tip, usually longer than wide.

[photo of glandular hairs] Flower stalks are variously covered in dark-tipped glandular hairs. Sepals have 5 triangular lobes.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are up to 7 inches long and 3½ inches wide, egg to heart-shaped, coarsely toothed to serrated around the edges, have a sharply pointed tip, and are hairless except for short, sparse hairs on the veins on the underside.

[photo of stem] Leaf stalks are up to 2½ inches long, up to half the length of the leaf blade, hairless to sparsely hairy, and grooved down the length but without wings along the edges.  Attachment is opposite and there are sometimes smaller leaves in the axils. The stem is erect, stout, hairless to minutely hairy, branching in the upper plant, and 4-sided with rounded angles and the sides distinctly grooved.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a dull brown, teardrop-shaped capsule about ¼ inch long. Inside are numerous tiny brownish-black seeds. When ripe the capsule splits in 2.


This is not a showy flower but is a pollinator magnet. We have several in the backyard garden and they are constantly covered in a variety of bees, wasps, flies, ants, and even hummingbirds from July into September. It also produces copious amounts of seed so does take some maintenance to prevent too much of a good thing, but the seedlings are easy to manage with a little hoeing early in the season. The flowers are much the same as the related Lance-leaf Figwort (Scrophularia lanceolata), which has a number of distinguishing characteristics: less heavily branched; starts blooming a month or so earlier; has a green sterile stamen usually with a fan-shaped tip that is wider than long; minute, pale-tipped glandular hairs; mostly flat sides on the angled stem; leaves that do not have heart-shaped bases; and shorter leaf stalks (up to 1¼ inch) that are narrowly winged.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Winona County and his backyard garden.


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

Posted by: Kate Gipp - Bald Eagle Benson Prairie in White Bear Lake MN
on: 2022-07-08 19:51:52

I have seen this plant in a couple places both in the prairie section and near the wetlands. It was windy both times I attempted to photograph the tiny flowers with my cell phone so I worked hard to get a focused photo!

Posted by: Curtis - Eden Prairie
on: 2022-08-29 14:45:58

These are strange looking little flowers, but I think I'll keep them. Two plants appeared in my garden and I let them grow to see what they were. They just started flowering and I was finally able to identify them. The black glandular hairs are not very obvious. I didn't notice them until I went back to look for them.

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