Pedicularis canadensis (Wood Betony)
|Also known as:
|Canadian Lousewort, Common Lousewort
|part shade, sun; average to dry prairies, open woods
|May - June
|4 to 16 inches
|Wetland Indicator Status:
|GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):
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Flowers are in a thick spike up to 3½ inches long at the top of the stem. Individual flowers are yellow, rarely reddish brown, ½ to 1 inch long, tubular with the upper lip longest and curving over the lower lip like a hood. The lower lip may be white.
The leafy 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:
Leaves are mostly basal, up to 6 inches long and 2 inches wide, with many deeply cut, toothed, rounded, often wavy lobes around the edges and a long stalk sparsely covered in long white hairs. A few leaves much smaller than the basal leaves are also alternately attached on the stem. The main stem is densely hairy. Leaves and stem may be green or tinged red.
Wood Betony tends to grow in clumps and is partially parasitic; common host plants are asters and native grasses. The leaves and flowers are similar to related species Swamp Lousewort (P. lanceolata) but that is a larger plant, has opposite leaves with shallower lobes, and doesn't bloom until August. 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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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, Rice County, and Rice Creek Trail Corridor, Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken at a postage stamp native remnant in Anoka County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?