Scutellaria leonardii (Leonard's Skullcap)
|Also known as:||Small Skullcap|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; average to dry sandy soil; prairies, savannas, open woods, bluffs, rock outcrops|
|Bloom season:||May - July|
|Plant height:||4 to 8 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: UPL MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Pairs of small, blue to violet, irregular flowers, ¼ to 1/3 inch (5 to 8 mm) long and wide, blooming from upper leaf axils. Flowers' outer surface is finely hairy, a broad four lobed lower lip is angled straight down with a display of blue on white dots and two lines of scattered hairs, the upper lip much smaller, forming a hood over the throat. The calyx is covered in non-glandular hairs and has a small ridge-like protrusion at the top.
On some plants, flowers may not all produce blue petals, but instead just a very small, closed white tube protruding from the calyx, a self-pollinating cleistogamous flower. Cleistogamous flowers may be even more inconspicuous than shown here.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are opposite, lance-like, angled up or spreading, short stalked or almost clasping, ½ to 2/3 inch (to 16 mm) long, ¼ to ½ inch wide, the edges toothless and curled or rolled under (see flower photo above), mostly hairless to sparsely hairy on the edges and tip, with 2 or 3 veins on each side of midrib. Stems are single or multiple from the base, square with fine downy hairs or scattered ascending hairs, especially on the angles, unbranched or few-branched, erect.
Leonard's Skullcap is more commonly known as a variety of Scutellaria parvula (Small Skullcap, var. missouriensis) but in Minnesota it's treated as its own species. It is not uncommon in dry sandy prairies, savannas and bluffs, but has occasionally been recorded in moister habitats. S. parvula is distinguished by its glandular hairs (S. leonardii has non-glandular hairs), more oval leaves and 3 to 5 veins on each side of the mid-vein. Leonard's Skullcap establishes quite well as a small garden border in sandy soil or a rock garden.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Lost Valley SNA, Washington County. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka and Washington counties.
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