Plant of the Month June 2018
Photo: Hairy Skullcap in bloom.
Photo by A. Cressle
Hairy Skullcap (Scutellaria elliptica) is a striking native wildflower. It grows 12 to 18 inches in height with oval or elliptical leaves and has hairy stems which rarely branch. The attractive blue/violet flowers appear in late spring or early summer and resemble medieval skullcaps, hence the name. Commonly found in well-drained sites in partial shade, Hairy Skullcap is a useful addition to dry shade gardens in flower beds or natural woodland areas.
Another equally attractive native plant is Hyssop Skullcap (Scutellaria integrifolia) which has lance-shaped leaves and does not have hairy stems. It prefers soggy woods, swamps, wet fields and grows more vigorously in moist gardens with partial sun.
All Skullcaps have bitter tasting leaves which deer and other mammals shun. They are pollinated by bees and skipper butterflies. Although rather short-lived, they readily reseed. Skullcap habitats in our area are threatened by the spread of invasive plants, especially Japanese Stilt Grass.
See Go Native—Grow Native at www.nnnps.org to learn more about native plants that grow well in the Northern Neck.