Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Rock Skullcap - Scutellaria saxatilis   Riddell
Members of Lamiaceae:
Members of Scutellaria with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Lamiales » Family Lamiaceae
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DistributionWidely scattered in the Mountains; most of these are fairly recent records, as only three counties were reported for the state when RAB (1968) was published. A specimen from Rutherford County is at herbarium WCUH, but needs and ID check as it lacks label data and an image.

This is a mostly Central Appalachian species, ranging from western PA and southern IN, south to western NC and northwestern GA.
AbundanceRare in the Mountains, mostly at middle and higher elevations. The NCNHP database lists 28 records for it, with many still extant, a surprising number for the past 50 years, indicating that the species has been increasing, or else it was overlooked in the past. The NCNHP tracts it as Significantly Rare.
HabitatAs the scientific and common names imply, this species favors rocky habitats. It occurs mostly in high elevation rocky forests, usually in mesic (to at times rich) soils, such as Boulderfield Forests, Northern Hardwood Forests with some rocks, cliffs, and dry rocky slopes.
PhenologyBlooms from June to August, and fruits during this same period.
IdentificationThis is an odd Scutellaria in that it is quite weak-stemmed and usually leans or trails along the ground or over rocks. It reaches only about 1 foot long, and it has rather small, paired leaves along a mostly unbranched stem. Each leaf has a long petiole, often close to 1-inch long, and a blade that is ovate to triangular, with an essentially truncate base, only about 1-1.5 inches long and with scalloped margins. There is just one solitary raceme at the top of the stem, or may contain a few axillary racemes at the top of the plant, each raceme being about 2-3 inches long and containing only a few flowers each. The flower is blue to violet-blue and about 3/4-inch long. The flowers tend to be a brighter blue than on most of the Scutellaria species in the state, which tend to have more lavender-blue flowers. To find this interesting species, you likely will need to find a rocky slope or boulderfield.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Smooth Rock Skullcap
State RankS2
Global RankG3G4
State StatusSR-T
US Status
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