Pedicularis canadensis

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: common lousewort 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Orobanchaceae
Native Range: Southeastern Canada, northern Mexico, eastern United States to Florida
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Yellow to purple-red
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy


Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Established plantings tolerate some drought. May naturalize into colonies by self-seeding. Plants are semi-parasitic on the roots of neighboring plants.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Pedicularis canadensis, called common lousewort or wood betony, is a hairy perennial that typically grows to 1 1/2’ tall. It is native from Quebec to Manitoba south to Texas and Florida. In Missouri, it typically occurs in dry woods, ridges, meadows and prairies throughout most of the state (Steyermark). Flowers appear in April-May in a dense terminal whorl atop an unbranched, sparsely-leaved, often hairy flowering stalk rising from the center of a basal rosette of deeply cut, fern-like leaves (to 6” long). Flowers vary in color from light yellow to purple-red or both. Each flower (to 3/4” long) is tubular, 2-lipped, hooded and subtended by a leafy bract. Leaves remain green through the growing season.

Genus name comes from the Latin word pedicularis meaning relating to lice.

Specific epithet means of Canada.

Common name is in reference to a once believed fable that animals (including cattle and sheep) became particularly susceptible to lice infestations after feeding on these plants.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Native plant gardens. Open wooded areas.