Dracocephalum parviflorum (American Dragonhead)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Lamiaceae (Mint)
Life cycle:annual, short-lived perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; dry gravelly soil, fields, open woods, waste areas
Bloom season:May - August
Plant height:8 to 30 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Flower shape: tubular Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowers] Flowers are in a thick spike 1 to 4 inches long at the top of the stem and at the end of stems arising from upper leaf axils. Individual flowers are about ¼ inch long, pale blue-violet, tubular with a notched upper lip and a 3-lobed lower lip. The bracts are long, hairy, sharply toothed with spines at the tooth tips.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are to 3 inches long and 1 inch wide, light to medium green, with large, coarse sharp teeth, a pointed tip, rounded or tapered at the base and a slender stalk. Attachment is opposite and there are often small leaflets clumped in the leaf axils. Leaf surfaces and the stem are smooth to sparsely hairy. Stems are square and typically branched.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of fruiting head] The flower head dries to brown as fruit matures. Fruit is a black, 1-seeded nutlet.


American Dragonhead is something of a weedy species, popping up in disturbed soils along railroad rights-of-way, roadsides, ditches, degraded fields, and trail edges. A few plants even volunteered in my own backyard garden but did not persist.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Hubbard and Ramsey counties. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Hubbard County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Shelly - Cottonwood Cty-Jeffers Petroglyphs Tall Grass Prairie
on: 2010-07-17 12:09:41

Thanks for having the information about this plant on your site. Just found some specimens this year and was trying to figure out what it was. Now I have found enough of the plant to take a specimen to verify it with the DNR.

Posted by: sandra - eckles township/ bemidji
on: 2011-06-27 18:29:07

This was growing alongside road in horse pasture. pretty and great addition to my arrangements.

Posted by: Chris - Blue Earth Co
on: 2015-08-21 16:56:11

Does this ever spread close to the ground? I have a similar plant that is not upright.

Posted by: Jonathan - Edina (Hennepin County)
on: 2016-07-17 15:46:11

Today, 7-17-2016, was about to pull a single plant in my wildflower garden, assuming it to be a nettle, when I noticed the just-opening small light-blue flowers in the stubby spike at the top. Used your page to ID it, then cross checked with USDA plant database. Thanks for your help!

Posted by: Gary - Carlton
on: 2019-03-03 23:27:55

This shows up now and again in my vegetable garden. I let grow anyway.

Posted by: Jillian - Thief River Falls, MN
on: 2019-08-01 16:37:14

This showed up in a conservation planting. Looked "weedy" but it is not overly so.

Posted by: gary - Carlton County
on: 2020-08-03 21:23:58

Shows up now and then in cultivated soil.

Posted by: Timothy Johnson - Hennepin County
on: 2022-07-08 22:09:33

Lots of this came up on the shoulders of the new walking paths in River Park in Brooklyn Park. Funny that before this disturbance I'd not seen any of it in the park before. Where did the seeds come from I wonder?

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