Scrophularia marilandica L.

Carpenter's square

Scrophularia marilandica plant

Family - Scrophulariaceae

Stems - To +3m tall, erect, typically simple, from large fleshy roots, glabrous, 4-angled, (the angles rounded), fluted with a single groove on each side of stem, herbaceous. Pith white.

Leaves - Opposite, decussate, petiolate. Petioles to +/-7cm long, often purplish above, with an adaxial groove, sparse glandular pubescent. Blades cordate to truncate at base, serrate, ovate, acuminate, dull green and glabrous above, light green and puberulent on veins below, to +15cm long, +/-9cm broad.

Scrophularia marilandica leavesPressed leaves.

Scrophularia marilandica leafA more ovate leaf.

Inflorescence - Terminal and axillary thrysoid panicles to 30cm long(tall). Each division of inflorescence subtended by gradually smaller linear bracts. Lowest division of inflorescence subtended by foliaceous bracts. Peduncles and pedicels with glandular pubescence. Glands deep purple to black, (use a lens to see the color). Pedicels to 1.5cm long in flower, slightly longer in fruit.

Scrophularia marilandica inflorescence

Flowers - Corolla bilabiate, greenish, glabrous, 8-9mm long. Upper lip 2-lobed. Lobes rounded, reddish or at least with reddish margins, -3mm in diameter. Lower lip 3-lobed. Central lobe reflexed. Lobes 2mm long, rounded. Style exserted, greenish-white, often deflexed on the central lobe of the lower lip of the corolla, sparsely glandular pubescent or glabrous. Stamens 4, didynamous, one pair slightly exserted by the lower lip of the corolla. Filaments to 4mm long, greenish-white, glandular pubescent. Anthers yellow, 1.3mm broad. Staminode purplish, adnate to the upper lip of the corolla, included. Ovary superior, green, ovoid, 1.2mm long, 1.2mm in diameter, subtended by a thick yellow nectariferous ring, 2-locular. Placentation axile. Seeds(ovules) many. Calyx green, glabrous, 5-lobed. Lobes ovate, 2mm long, 1.5mm broad, rounded at the apex. Calyx tube to -1mm long.

Scrophularia marilandica flowerFlower close-up.

Scrophularia marilandica flowerFront view.

Flowering - July - October.

Habitat - Rich woods, ravines, thickets, stream banks, woodland borders.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This species is found throughout Missouri. When not in flower, this species can be confused with another species, Agastache nepetoides (L.) O. Ktze., from the Lamiaceae. When in flower, though, S. marilandica is unmistakable because of its tall size and big open thrysoid panicles.
Steyermark lists two forms for the plant based on leaf pubescence but even he admits they are probably not valid.
Traditionally this species was used as a tea and a poultice for many ailments from fever to anxiety.

While I was out taking some of these pictures my co-worker Dan slipped and fell on this Copperhead:


Copperheads, Agkistrodon contortrix, are great snakes and this fine specimen didn't even try to bite and stayed very still so that we could take her picture.

Photographs taken at Logan Creek, Reynolds County, MO., 7-13-03, and along the shores of the Current River, Carter County, MO., 7-9-04.