(Scrophularia Marylandica; S. nodosa of Gray) Figwort family

Flowers - Very small, dull green on outside; vivid, shining

brownish purple within; borne in almost leafless terminal

clusters on slender stems; Calyx 5-parted.; corolla of 5 rounded

lobes, the 2 upper ones erect, side ones ascending, lower one

bent downward; 5 staroens, 4 of them twin-like and bearing

anthers, the fifth sterile, a mere scale on roof of the globular

corolla tube; style with knot-like stigma. Stem: From 3 to 10 ft.

high, square, with grooved sides, widely. branching. Leaves: From

3 to 12 in. long, oblong, pointed, coarsely toothed, on slender

stems, strong smelling.

Preferred Habitat - Moist, shady ground.

Flowering Season - July-September.

Distribution - New York to the Carolinas, westward to Tennessee

and Kansas; possibly beyond.

An insignificant little flower by itself, conspicuous only

because it rears itself in clusters on a level with one's eyes,

lacking beauty, perfume, and all that makes a blossom charming to

the human mind - why has it been elevated by the botanists to the

dignity of lending its name to a large and important family, and

why is it mentioned at all in a popular flower book beside the

more showy ornaments of nature's garden? Both questions have the

same answer: Because it is the typical flower of the family, and

therefore serves as an illustration of the manner in which many

others are fertilized. Beautiful blossoms are by no means always

the most important ones.

It well repays one to observe the relative times of maturing

anthers and stigmas in the flowers, as thereby hangs a tale in

which some insect plays an interesting role. The figwort matures

its stigma at the lip of the style before its anthers have

ripened their pollen. Why? By having the stigma of a newly opened

flower thrust forward to the mouth of the corolla, an insect

alighting on the lip, which forms his only convenient landing

place, must brush against it and leave upon it some pollen

brought from an older flower, whose anthers are already matured.

At this early stage of the flower's development its stamens lie

curved over in the tube of the corolla; but presently, as the

already fertilized style begins to wither, and its stigma is dry

and no longer receptive to pollen, then, since there can be no

longer any fear of self-pollination - the horror of so many

flowers - the figwort uncurls and elevates its stamens. The

insect visitor in search of nectar must get dusted with pollen

from the late maturing anthers now ready for him. By this

ingenious method the flower becomes cross-fertilized and wastes

the least pollen.

Bees and wasps evidently pursue opposite routes in going to work,

the former beginning at the bottom of a spike or raceme, where

the older, more mature flowers are, and working upward; the wasps

commencing at the top, among the newly opened ones. In spite of

the fact that we usually see hive bees about this plant,

pilfering the generous supply of nectar in each tiny cup, it is

undoubtedly the wasp that is the flower's truest benefactor,

since he carries pollen from the older blossoms of the last

raceme visited to the projecting stigmas of the newly opened

flowers at the top of the next cluster. Manifestly no flower,

even though it were especially adapted to wasps, as this one is,

could exclude bees. About one-third of all its visitors are


MARSH ST.JOHN'SWORT MAY APPLE HOG APPLE MANDRAKE WILD LEMON facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail