Scutellaria leonardii (Leonard's Skullcap)
|Also known as:||Small Skullcap|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; dry sandy soil; prairies, open woods|
|Bloom season:||May - July|
|Plant height:||4 to 8 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|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 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 hood is much smaller. The calyx is covered in glandless 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 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 can be multiple from the root, square with fine downy hairs or scattered ascending hairs, especially on the angles, few branches above, erect.
Leonard's Skullcap was once treated as a variant of Scutellaria parvula (Small Skullcap, going by var. missouriensis), which is more restricted to the bluffs and upland woods of SE Minnesota. S. parvula is generally more hairy throughout with glandular hairs (S. leonardii has glandless hairs), more oval leaves and up to 5 veins on each side of the mid-vein. Leonard's Skullcap established quite well as a small garden border in sandy soil.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Lost Valley SNA, Washington County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County.
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