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Plant of the Week #5- May 27

Sometimes it takes a keen eye to spot a plant that is diminutive in size, yet alluring in charm and appeal. One that fits this description is the native plant Small Skullcap, Scutellaria parvula var missouriensis in Wisconsin, but S. leonardii in Minnesota. Here is one on a bluff prairie above La Crosse:

A perennial plant in the mint family, it is aromatic, grows about 6-8" tall, has a square stem, fine downy hairs, and a very attractive blue to violet flower that blooms from May into July. It spreads by rhizomes as well as by seeds. "Scutellaria" comes from the Latin scutella which means "small dish" referring to the dish shaped sepal as per the blue arrow. This is also where the name "skullcap" comes from.


Note the red arrow showing a leaf that has 2 side veins. To some taxonomists, this is one feature that helps distinguish the common S. parvula var missouriensis from the endangered S. parvula var. parvula which has 3-5 side veins as well as glandular hairs which you'll need your trusty 10 loupe to see!


There are also some flowers on these plants that practice "cleistogamy" which is a type of self-pollination. These flowers look very different than the normal flowers. This might make some of you think back to a previous post about self-pollination: https://www.friendsoftheblufflands.org/post/let-them-have-sex-flowers-that-is


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