swamp betony

(Pedicularis lanceolata)

Conservation Status
swamp betony
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

OBL - Obligate wetland


OBL - Obligate wetland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACW - Facultative wetland


Swamp betony is a 12 to 36 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises on usually a solitary stem.

The stems are erect but recline with age. They are hollow, 4-angled with rounded angles, unbranched or with a few branches, and green with purple vertical stripes between the nodes. They are mostly hairless but have vertical lines of hairs along the purple stripes.

The leaves are mostly opposite, linear oblong to oblong lance-shaped, 1½ to 3½ long, and to ¾ wide. They may be stalkless or on leaf stalks up to long. They are divided with shallow, rounded lobes cut less than half way to the midrib. The upper surface is deep green, sparsely hairy, with indented (impressed) lateral veins. The lower surface is lighter green, sparsely hairy, with raised (prominent) lateral veins. The margins of the lobes have fine, rounded teeth.

The inflorescence is a ¾ to 4 long, cone-shaped spike at the end of the stem and sometimes also from upper leaf axils. They have a conspicuous pinwheel arrangement, with the flowers sticking out at right angles to the central axis.

The individual flowers are stalkless and subtended by a single leaf-like bract. The calyx is to ½ long with 2 spreading, rounded lobes. There are 5 white petals forming a to 1 long, tubular, 2-lipped corolla.The upper 2 petals are fused into convex, 1-lobed, hood-like lip (galea) from which the pistil protrudes. The galea is not toothed. The lower 3 petals are fused into a banner that is about as long as the galea and has 3 rounded lobes. The 4 stamens are contained within the galea.

The fruit is a dry, egg-shaped capsule with uneven sides. It is mostly hidden by the calyx.




12 to 36


Flower Color




Similar Species


Wood betony (Pedicularis canadensis ssp. canadensis) is a much shorter plant, reaching only 4 to 16 at maturity. It usually forms clumps. Most of the leaves are in a crowded, basal rosette. Stem leaves are alternate, not opposite. The lower stem leaves are on long stalks. All leaves are more deeply lobed, the lobes cut more than half way to the midrib. The inflorescence is up to 4 long. The flowers are yellow. There are 2 small teeth just below the tip of the galea. The lower lip is shorter than the galea. It blooms much earlier, April to June. It is found in dry to moist, not wet, locations.


Wet. Meadows, prairies, marshes, shores.




August to September




Swamp betony is a facultative parasite. It gets water and nutrients from the roots of grasses and possibly other plants. In the absence of suitable hosts it is capable of normal development. However, in the field it is rarely if ever found not parasitizing other plants.


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)  


Orobanchaceae (broomrape)  
  Tribe Pedicularideae  
  Genus Pedicularis (louseworts)  

The genus Pedicularis, formerly belonging the family Scrophulariaceae (figwort), has recently been transferred to the family Orobanchaceae (broomrape).


Subordinate Taxa






Pedicularis auriculata

Pedicularis pallida

Pedicularis virginica


Common Names


fen betony

swamp betony

swamp lousewort













The upper angle where the leaf stalk meets the stem.



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.



An enlarged, vaulted, strongly concave or helmet-shaped upper lip of some two-lipped corollas, as in Indian paintbrush or monkshood.



Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.



The small swelling of the stem from which one or more leaves, branches, or buds originate.

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Flowering Plant

    swamp betony      

Fruiting Plant

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    swamp betony      


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    swamp betony   swamp betony  


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  Pedicularis lanceolata (Swamp Betony)
Allen Chartier
  Pedicularis lanceolata (Swamp Betony)  



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Other Videos
  Swamp Betony - Pedicularis lanceolata

Published on Aug 24, 2012

Earthyman views Swamp Betony (Pedicularis lanceolata) in bloom at Ion Exchange, native seed and plant nursery in NE Iowa. Swamp Betony is a wetland wildflower. It is also known as Swamp Lousewort. http://ionxchange.com/products/PEDICULARIS-LANCEOLATA-%7C-Swamp-Lousewort.html




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