Scutellaria lateriflora
Common Name: mad-dog scullcap
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Lamiaceae
Native Range: North America
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.50 feet
Bloom Time: July to October
Bloom Description: Blue
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Wet Soil

Culture

Wetland plant that is best grown in moist to wet soils in full sun. Tolerates some light afternoon shade. Spreads by rhizomes and runners,

Noteworthy Characteristics

Scutellaria lateriflora, commonly known as blue skullcap, mad dog skullcap and side-flowering skullcap, is a low-growing herbaceous perennial in the mint family that typically grows to 2-3’ tall. It is native to wetland areas from Quebec and Newfoundland west to British Columbia and south to California, Louisiana and Florida. Steyermark describes its range in Missouri as “low wet woods, swampy meadows, alluvial thickets, gravel bars, river flood plain forests, borders of sloughs, spring branches, streams, swamps, lowland and sink-hole ponds, and moist ledges of limestone and sandstone bluffs.” Three variations in flower color occur, sometimes being listed as S. lateriflora f. lateriflora (blue-purple corollas), S. latiflora f. albiflorsa(white corollas) and S. lateriflora f. rodantha (pink corollas).

Tiny, tubular, two-lipped, snapdragon-like, blue flowers (to 1/3”) bloom solitary or in one-sided racemes, mostly from the leaf axils but occasionally terminal from July to early October. Square stems are clad with thin, opposite, mostly glabrous, ovate to lanceolate leaves which feature toothed margins, subordate or rounded bases and pinnate veins. Leaves are dark green above but light green beneath.

The leaves of blue skullcap have a history of use in herbal medicines as a sedative and tranquilizer and for treatment of a variety of conditions including insomnia, anxiety, convulsions and certain neurological disorders.

Genus name comes from the Latin word scutella meaning a small dish or saucer in reference to the shape of the persistent calyx after the flowers fade.

Specific epithet means side-flowering in reference to the one-sided floral racemes.

Common name of skullcap is in reference to the cap-like shape of the flowers and seed capsules which purportedly resemble the military helmets worn by men in the Middle Ages.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Powdery mildew and leaf spot may occur. Watch for aphids.

Garden Uses

Wetland plant for moist to wet low spots, stream or pond margins, marshy areas.