{Pedicularis Canadensis) Figwort family

Flowers - Greenish yellow and purplish red, in a short dense

spike. Calyx oblique, tubular, cleft on lower side, and with 2 or

3 scallops on upper; corolla about 3/4 in. long, 2-lipped, the

upper lip arched, concave, the lower 3-lobed; 4 stamens in pairs;

1 pistil. Stems: Clustered, simple, hairy, 6 to 18 in. high.

Leaves: Mostly tufted, oblong lance-shaped in outline, and

pinnately lobed.

Preferred Habitat - Dry, open woods and thickets.

Flowering Season - April-June.

Distribution - Nova Scotia to Florida, westward to Manitoba,

Colorado, and Kansas.

When the Italians wish to extol someone they say, "He has more

virtues than betony," alluding, of course, to the European

species, Betonica officinalis, a plant that was worn about the

neck and cultivated in cemeteries during the Middle Ages as a

charm against evil spirits; and prepared into plasters,

ointments, syrups, and oils, was supposed to cure every ill that

flesh is heir to. Our commonest American species fulfils its

mission in beautifying roadside banks and dry, open woods and

copses with thick, short spikes of bright flowers, that rise

above large rosettes of coarse, hairy, fern-like foliage. At

first, these flowers, beloved of bumblebees, are all greenish

yellow; but as the spike lengthens with increased bloom, the

arched, upper lip of the blossom becomes dark purplish red, the

lower one remains pale yellow, and the throat turns reddish,

while some of the beefsteak color often creeps into stems and

leaves as well.

Farmers once believed that after their sheep fed on the foliage

of this group of plants a skin disease, produced by a certain

tiny louse (pediculus), would attack them - hence our innocent

betony's repellent name.

WOOD ANEMONE WIND FLOWER YARROW MILFOIL OLD MAN'S PEPPER NOSEBLEED facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail