early figwort

(Scrophularia lanceolata)

Conservation Status
early figwort
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5? - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FAC - Facultative


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


Early figwort is a 36 to 78 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises on a cluster of stems from a taproot. It is a large, conspicuous plant with small, inconspicuous flowers.

The stems are erect, usually unbranched, and square, with flat or slightly grooved sides between the angles. They are slightly hairy when young, becoming hairless below the inflorescence with age. It is sticky and sparsely to moderately covered with minute glands within the inflorescence.

The leaves are opposite and on to 1¼ long leaf stalks (petioles). The petiole is rarely one-third as long as the leaf blade. They are lance-shaped to egg-shaped, 3 to 8 long, and 1 to 3 wide, becoming somewhat smaller as they ascend the stem. The leaf blade may be heart-shaped, broadly rounded, wedge-shaped, or squared off near the base, and is long-tapered to the petiole. It tapers to a sharp point at the tip with concave sides along the tip. The upper and lower surfaces are hairless. The margins are toothed with sharp, forward pointing teeth.

The inflorescence is a tight, narrow, cylindrical, branched array (panicle) at the end of the stem. The panicle is 4 to 12 long and rarely more than 3 wide. The branches of the panicle are widely spaced, opposite near the base and alternate at the top. Each branch of the panicle is subtended by a narrowly lance-shaped, leaf-like appendage (bract) and terminates in a branched cluster (cyme) of several flowers.

The flowers are ¼ to long and tube-shaped. There are 5 sepals, 5 petals, 4 fertile stamens, 1 sterile stamen (staminode), and 1 style. The sepals are dull green and fused at the base into a deeply saucer-shaped calyx tube, then separated near the middle into 5 broad, rounded, egg-shaped, 1 16 to long lobes. The 5 petals are fused at the base into a wide corolla tube then separated into 2 lips. The upper lip is divided into two lobes and projects forward, functioning as a hood. It is mostly dull reddish-brown on the outside, yellow at the base. The lower lip is divided into 3 lobes. The two lateral lobes are vertically oriented, mostly dull reddish-brown on the outside, yellow at the base. The lower lobe is green and is folded downward. The 4 fertile stamens have white anthers, are paired, and do not extend beyond the corolla tube. The infertile staminode is fan-shaped, often wider than long, roundly dilated at the tip, and yellowish-green.

The fruit is a dull brown, ¼ to long, more or less egg-shaped capsule.




36 to 78


Flower Color


Reddish brown


Similar Species


Late figwort (Scrophularia marilandica) stems of older plants are rounded and prominently grooved between the angles. The inflorescence is loose, pyramid-shaped, irregularly branched, and up to 6 wide. The sterile staminode is purple, not yellow.


Woodland edges and openings, meadows, fields, roadsides, fencerows. Rocky areas. Light shade to partial sun.




May to August


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  


Lamiales (mints, plantains, olives, and allies)  


Scrophulariaceae (figwort)  
  Tribe Scrophularieae  
  Genus Scrophularia (figworts)  



Scrophularia pectinata

Scrophularia occidentalis

Scrophularia leporella


Common Names


early figwort

hare figwort

lanceleaf figwort













Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk, flower cluster, or inflorescence.



The group of outer floral leaves (sepals) below the petals, occasionally forming a tube.



A collective name for all of the petals of a flower.



A branched, flat-topped or convex flower cluster in which the terminal flower opens first and the outermost flowers open last.



A pyramidal inflorescence with a main stem and branches. Flowers on the lower, longer branches mature earlier than those on the shorter, upper ones.



On plants: The stalk of a leaf blade or a compound leaf that attaches it to the stem. On ants and wasps: The constricted first one or two segments of the rear part of the body.



A modified stamen that produces no pollen. It often has no anther.

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