Pedicularis lanceolata (Swamp Lousewort)

Plant Info
Also known as: Swamp Betony
Family:Orobanchaceae (Broomrape)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; wet limy soil; fields, prairies, swamps, along shores
Bloom season:August - September
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: FACW
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: spike

[photo of flowers] Flowers are in dense spikes at the end of stems than arise from the leaf axils. Individual flowers are creamy white to pale yellow, ¾ to 1 inch long and tubular. The upper lip is longest and curves down over the end of the lower lip.

[photo of bracts] The bracts are lobed and toothed, with long hairs around the edges. The bracts are twisted so that the flowers are turned sideways. From the top of the plant the arrangement resembles a pinwheel.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are up to 4 inches long and 1 inch wide, hairy, with small rounded lobes that have tiny teeth around the edges. Attachment is opposite, with each pair at right angles to the pair below it. Leaves are mostly about the same size, but are much smaller near the flowers. The main stem is covered in short hairs but may become smooth with age.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of friut] Fruit is a capsule, open at the top, containing numerous small seeds. The capsules persist through winter.

[photo of seed] Inside are numerous irregularly shaped wrinkly brown seeds, each 1 to 2 millimeters long


I first noticed this plant in mid June when it was sprouting and about a foot tall. I checked its progress almost every week and didn't see the first flowers until more than 2 months had passed. It was an agonizing wait. The leaf shape and flowers are similar to related species Wood Betony (P. canadensis) but that species has mostly basal leaves, is a smaller plant, and blooms in spring. Swamp Lousewort is partially parasitic; common host plants are asters and native grasses. All of the Pedicularis species were formerly in family Scrophulariaceae (Figwort) but have been reassigned to Orobanchaceae (Broomrape) along with other parasitic plants.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Vadnais/Snail Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County.


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

Posted by: Keith - Iron Horse Prairie SNA
on: 2014-08-14 22:20:25

I photographed this plant in two separate locations. The first was in a ditch about five miles north of Sedan, MN. The second was in the Iron Horse SNA. Interesting that the plant is partially parasitic. I should have taken a closer look, but on Iron Horse there is so much to see!

Posted by: Pat W - Southern Cass Cty
on: 2014-09-01 23:39:29

I found this growing on shore line of the Crow Wing River, east of the town of Pillager. The leaves are very decorative looking.

Posted by: linda - Hythecker Prairie SNA
on: 2015-08-22 10:40:24

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

Posted by: Gary W - Carlton County
on: 2017-06-02 22:00:51

I saw this species in circa 2002 in Carlton County between Barnum and Mahtowa in a shrub swamp. Also with it was Lobelia siphilitica. I have photos of both somewhere.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2017-06-03 05:35:14

Gary, it does not surprise us you know of a population in Carlton County. We think it is an under-botanized county.

Posted by: Kenny h - Cedar River Austin
on: 2017-09-07 13:19:21

Found this purely by ditch not far from the Cedar River...ID was done by my Facebook friends...Plant ID and Discussion...handy to have.

Posted by: Kenny h - Cedar River Austin
on: 2017-09-08 15:34:04

The Swamp Lousewort I found yesterday also had...Blue Lobelia, Bottle Gentian, White Turtlehead, Joe Pye,Boneset, Sneezeweed and Wild Butterfly Milkweed growing in a 50 feet radius of it.

Posted by: Kimberly E. - Des Moines River WPA - Cottonwood County
on: 2019-08-19 15:49:59

Roughly three dozen plants blooming along one of the wetlands on Des Moines River WPA, northwest of Windom.

Posted by: Brett W. - Linwood Lake
on: 2021-08-21 17:33:58

In bloom today along the lake trail. From the map this species seems pretty common but this was the first time for me seeing it in bloom. I saw the leaves a last month here but didn't put it together with this plant.

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