Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Canadian Lousewort - Pedicularis canadensis   L.
Members of Orobanchaceae:
Members of Pedicularis with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Scrophulariales » Family Orobanchaceae
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DistributionThroughout the Mountains and most of the Piedmont (with only a few counties lacking records). In the Coastal Plain, mostly found disjunctly in the lower parts of the province, in the southern counties from Beaufort to Columbus; sparingly along the western edge of this province (e.g., the Sandhills).

This is a widespread and numerous Eastern species, found in most counties across its range -- from eastern Canada south to northern FL and west to eastern TX. It has a very spotty range along the Coastal Plain.
AbundanceCommon in the Mountains, and frequent to common in the Piedmont. Rare and local in the eastern and southeastern Coastal Plain, only in rich soil sites (high pH); very rare to absent elsewhere in the province.
HabitatThis is a species of mesic to moist forests, bottomlands, and stream banks; over most of the range it does not require high pH soil, but in the eastern Coastal Plain it does. It has a wide range of forested types in the state, and soil moisture and pH, but it does prefer moderate shade.
PhenologyBlooms in the spring, from April into May; fruits from May to July.
IdentificationThis is a familiar spring wildflower over the Piedmont and mountains, growing in the same places where many other spring-blooming plants are found. It is rather small, reaching only about 6-9" high. It has a basal rosette of numerous leaves, each being about 2" long and about 3/4" wide, highly dissected into about 10 or more pairs of pinnate lobes, quite fern-like. The single stem has a few pairs of opposite leaves, quite similar to the basal leaves but smaller, each strongly pinnately divided. The top of the stem is a very compact spike of a dozen or more medium-sized flowers, mostly tubular but with a hooded appearance, the top lobes curing down over the opening of the flower. Each flower is nearly 1" long, yellow to reddish-purple (often a mixture of yellow and purplish), and the effect is a rounded, bushy-looking inflorescence that is 1-2" across. Normally, the species can be identified just from the cluster of highly-dissected basal leaves, but the rounded cluster of numerous flowers is bound to catch attention. Though it can be local in a given county, not found in all suitable habitat, it normally can be seen on every few spring wildflower trips in the mountains and Piedmont.
Taxonomic CommentsSome references give varieties for the species, but Weakley (2018) does not.

Other Common Name(s)Wood-betony, Eastern Lousewort
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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Bruce A. Sorrierocky floodplain of Deep Creek, High Falls MoorePhoto_natural
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