Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Late Figwort - Scrophularia marilandica   L.
Members of Scrophulariaceae:
Members of Scrophularia with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Scrophulariales » Family Scrophulariaceae
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DistributionPresent over nearly all of the Mountains, and widely scattered over nearly all of the Piedmont. Ranges sparingly into the northern half of the Coastal Plain, south to Craven County. Absent from the southern 40% of the Coastal Plain, including the Sandhills region.

This is a very widespread Eastern species. It ranges from New England and MN south to northern FL and barely to TX, though scarce in the Coastal Plain.
AbundanceFairly common to frequent in most of the Mountains, though rare in the extreme southwestern corner. Uncommon in the Piedmont, but probably rather rare in counties bordering SC; seems to be increasing in this province, as Cronquist and Oosting (1959) called it "Rare". Even Weakley's (2018) map shows it as "rare" in the Piedmont, but this is simply not the case. This website map shows it occurring in nearly half of the counties in the province, with many of these recent observations. Very rare in the northern and central Coastal Plain.
HabitatThis species prefers rich hardwood forests. In the mountains it is found in Rich Cove Forests and other moist forests and in slight openings. In the Piedmont and Coastal Plain it is found mainly in Basic Mesic Forests. It can also be found in somewhat rich portions of Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forests, and occasionally along moist roadbanks and forest edges.
See also Habitat Account for Rich Wet-Mesic Hardwood Forests
PhenologyBlooms from mid-July into October, and fruits shortly after blooming. The rather similar S. lanceolata blooms from May to early July and has finished blooming by the time this species begins.
IdentificationThis is a fairly robust and tall species, growing to about 3-4' tall, often somewhat leaning. It has scattered opposite leaves, each on a long petiole about 1" in length. The leaf blade is ovate to ovate-lanceolate, about 4-5" long and about 2.5" wide, but with very small serrations (not readily visible from a few feet away). The leaf serrations in S. lanceolata are quite large, often 1/5" long or more. The top of the stem contains the wide open panicle, about 4-5" long and rather pyramid-shaped --- wider at the bottom than at the top. There are several dozen small flowers, each looking like a small preacher standing in a pulpit; in this species, the flower is dull greenish on the outside but purplish-brown on the inside. In S. lanceolata, the flowers are greenish on the outside, and paler on the inside, but not dark purple-brown. The "preacher" is actually a sterile filament, and it is also purplish-brown in this species, and it is yellow-green in S. lanceolata, the main floral difference between these two species. Thus, to separate these two, note that S. marilandica has very finely serrated leaves (each tooth less than 3 mm long), a pyramid-shaped panicle instead of more cylindrical, and a purple-brown sterile filament inside the cup of the flower. Also note that S. marilandica does not begin blooming in the state until at least mid-July, after S. lanceolata should be finished.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Maryland Figwort, Carpenter's-square, Eastern Figwort
State RankS3 [S4]
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
USACE-agcpFACU link
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David CampbellCatawba County -- Riverbend Park; 27 August 2017 CatawbaPhoto_natural
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