Wood Betony, Canadian Lousewort
Pedicularis canadensis

Family: Orobanchaceae
Genus: Pedicularis (pe-dik-yoo-LAIR-is) (Info)
Species: canadensis (ka-na-DEN-sis) (Info)

Category:

Alpines and Rock Gardens

Perennials

Ponds and Aquatics

Height:

under 6 in. (15 cm)

6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

Spacing:

6-9 in. (15-22 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Light Shade

Partial to Full Shade

Full Shade

Danger:

N/A

Bloom Color:

Orange

Bright Yellow

Maroon (Purple-Brown)

Brown/Bronze

Cream/Tan

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Foliage:

Velvet/Fuzzy-Textured

Other details:

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:

Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Bay City, Michigan

Erie, Michigan

Saint Helen, Michigan

West Branch, Michigan

Cole Camp, Missouri

Glouster, Ohio

Viola, Tennessee

Shepherd, Texas

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

1
positive
1
neutral
0
negatives
RatingContent
Neutral

On Oct 11, 2004, tcfromky from Mercer, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:

There are a number of folk stories related to its common name, lousewort. It was supposed to breed lice, keep lice away, seeds looked like lice, the leaves looked like they were filled with lice and if livestock ate it they would become infested with lice. Who knows which or if any of those are true. :)

Wood betony is one of the first spring wildflowers on the prairie, in some cases forming dense colonies, providing a most spectacular display.

Positive

On Apr 27, 2004, DiOhio from Corning, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

Wood Betony, or Lousewort, is a native perennial to my area (SE Ohio) and spreads by short horizontal rhizomes. They are semi-parasitic plants that get some of their nourishment from the roots of other plants. I found a large patch of it growing near a power line clearing in the woods. I dug a few and transplanted them to my flowerbeds where they are doing well. The next year the property was sold and half of the wild patch was destroyed by gravel driveway.

It is called Lousewort because of the belief once held by farmers that cattle and sheep became infested with lice when grazing on the plant.

Look at the flowers from above and get a whole different perspective of the plant.