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Plant of the Week: May 6

Plant #2:

Wood Betony, Pedicularis canadensis, blooms in early to mid spring growing best in sun to partial shade and is an important plant for emerging pollinators like queen bumblebees. The petals are usually yellow but can have a reddish hood and forms a conical spike that creates a pinwheel look. It is a perennial, spreads by both seed and rhizomes forming clumps, and is hemiparasitic meaning it taps into the roots of other plants, such as grasses, to obtain nutrients, but is capable of supporting itself by producing its own chlorophyll. It is valuable to promote plant diversity on the prairie because it can hinder the growth of some of the tall, more aggressive plants such as Indian grass and big bluestem while allowing smaller flowering plants to grow.

The genus name "Pedicularis" comes from the mistaken belief in the past that cattle and sheep would become infested with lice if they grazed on this plant. Also, according to some folklore, the root of this plant was used to heal broken marriages by placing it in the food the couple would both eat, hoping its magic would rekindle romance!

Friends of the Blufflands plans to collect seeds from this plant in the late spring to spread it to other restored praries where it currently is not growing.

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