Canadian Lousewort or Wood Betony
Wood Betony is a native wildflower that often grows in large colonies. These photographs were taken at Mountain Lake Lodge in Pembroke, Virginia, in early-May. Large drifts of wood betony could be found growing in the woods behind the hotel there. Some of the yellow flowers were photographed near Pandapas Pond in Montgomery County, VA.
Although this is a member of the Figwort family of plants, at first glance wood betony looks like a kind of bee balm. It has a whorl of flowers at the top of a stem bearing individual flowers that are long, thin, and tubular, with an open lip like snap dragons. These brownish red and yellow flowers look ideal for attracting insects with long tongues. The whorl of flowers opens from the bottom up. The closed portion of the flower head is covered in very fine hairs, as you can see in the photo above.
Wood betony is a perennial. It grows to a height of 6 to 12 inches. The base of the plant is a rosette of attractive leaves; each leaf is about 6 inches long, deeply cut and covered with downy hairs. The plant is in bloom for about three weeks in April or May. It is purported to have a number of medicinal properties.