One of our more showy spring wildflowers is wood-betony (Pedicularis canadensis) in the Broomrape (Orobanchaceae) family.
Wood-betony can be found across much of eastern North America with some isolated populations in Colorado and New Mexico. In Arkansas it is found in most counties except those directly along the Mississippi River.
The foliage is hairy and lobed, almost resembling a fern but thicker, especially in early spring before the inflorescence emerges. It can sometimes have an attractive red tint to it.
Flowers are produced at the top of a short inflorescence. They are usually clear yellow but some populations are bicolored purple/white or yellow/white.
Wood-betony grows in a variety of habitats, generally preferring woodlands, prairies, savannahs and riparian areas. It can become established in the artificial ‘prairies’ created next to roads where it takes advantage of abundant water runoff and no competition for light.
Long-tongued bees such as bumblebees and mason bees are a major visitor to the flowers.
Article and photographs by ANPS member Eric Hunt