Lycopus virginicus (Virginia Bugleweed)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Lamiaceae (Mint)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade, sun; moist soil; floodplains, moist woods, along shores, wet meadows
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:18 to 36 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: 4-petals Flower shape: tubular Cluster type: whorled

[photo of flowers] Small dense clusters of 1/8-inch white flowers surrounding leaf axils along much of the plant; usually not all in a cluster are open at the same time. Individual flowers are tubular with 4 or 5 short lobes and may have a few pinkish spots on the petals. The 2 stamens inside are barely as long as the tube, or shorter. The calyx has 5 broadly triangular lobes, pointed or blunt at the tips and is distinctly shorter than the floral tube.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are 2 to 4 inches long, 2/3 to 2 inches wide, lance to egg-shaped to nearly diamond-shaped, tapering to a pointed tip and tapering, sometimes abruptly, at the base to a short stalk, stalks becoming shorter as leaves ascend the stem with the upper leaves stalkless or nearly so. Edges are coarsely toothed in the upper 2/3 or so of the blade, toothless at the base. The upper surface is hairless, the lower may be short hairy or hairy just along the central vein. Attachment is opposite, with leaf pairs at right angles to the pair above and below. Stems are square with rounded angles, variously hairy, and unbranched. Prostrate stems (stolons) root at the nodes and do not produce tubers.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is a set of 4 nutlets forming a square, inside each nutlet is a single seed. The calyx is shorter than the nutlets.


There are several Lycopus species in Minnesota, all with similar clusters of small, white, tubular flowers around the leaf axils, most growing in the same type of habitat at the same time, often next to each other. Virginia Bugleweed is typically characterized by its very short calyx, stamens that do not extend beyond the floral tube, and usually some degree of hairiness on its stalked leaves, which are proportionately broader and more egg-shaped than those of other Lycopus species. It is also more of a forest floodplain species than open wetland, and does not produce tubers as some other species do. Where their ranges overlap, Virginia Bugleweed hybridizes with Northern Bugleweed (Lycopus uniflorus) resulting in Lycopus X sherardii, but its characteristics are unknown (though not for lack of trying to hunt down the info). Of note is that, while researching Virginia Bugleweed, I came upon several references that seemed to copy the description in Gleason and Chronquist's “Manual of Vascular Plants”, stating the leaves are more or less long hairy. Our observations did not confirm this, and an Internet search for any image (photo or illustration) showing this characteristic came up empty. The closest thing I found were some photos on the Southeastern Flora website, which show hairs along the veins. The next time we encounter this species we will be sure and look more closely at the leaf hairs.

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More photos

Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Kanabec County.


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

Posted by: Aaron McGuire - St. Paul, Ramsey County
on: 2022-09-05 22:40:58

Found along banks of Mississippi River in the gorge. North of Marshall Avenue bridge.

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