Pedicularis canadensis

Wood Betony
A Most Interesting and Unusual Species
Price Code: 
$9.50/qt. $12.50/5"pot
Limited Supply

Adapted from Wikipedia:

Pedicularis canadensis is a perennial, clonal, herbaceous plant, growing to 30 cm (12 in) tall. It has long, soft, hairy leaves (many are basal, growing tufted from roots), some 12 to 36 cm (4.7 to 14.2 in) long, deeply incised and toothed, often reddish-purple under sunlight. It blooms in the spring to summer, between April and June. It produces a broad whorl of tubular, hooded flowers on top of a segmented stalk. The flowers range in color from a greenish-yellow to purplish-red, clustered on short, dense spikes. They are pollinated by bumblebees, and perhaps other species, as well. The fruit is a long brown seed capsule, which disperses through explosive dehiscence. It is in the Orobanchaceae, a family once thought to be related to the snapdragons and their relatives.

Wood betony is a hemiparasite, attaching to the roots of grasses and other species, but also producing chlorophyll on its own. Its roots also have a symbiotic relationship with a fungus that helps it gather nutrients. It appears to be a consumate symbiont.  It has been used in prairie restoration projects to reduce the dominance of aggressive tallgrasses, and it can create quite a handsome floral display. Ours are the purple and yellow form.

This plant was eaten by the Iroquois as a vegetable, often as a soup. It was added to oats and used as horse feed by Native Americans, and some used a root infusion as a remedy for stomachaches, diarrhea, anemia and heart trouble and made a poultice for swellings, tumors and sore muscles.

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