Monday, August 1, 2011
Hoary Skullcap - Scutellaria incana
Hoary skullcap (Scutellaria incana) occurs in the panhandle region of Florida and throughout much of the eastern U.S. Throughout its range, it is a species of dry open woodlands and openings.
Hoary skullcap is a perennial deciduous herbaceous mint. It emerges early in the spring and eventually reaches its mature height of about 2-3 feet by summer. This is a rather lanky plant; taller than wide. The foliage is arrow-shaped (deltoid). Each leaf has noticeable toothed margins and the veins are distinct and "netted."
Flowering occurs in summer. Many buds are produced at the tips of the main stems and flowers are produced for many weeks from June-August. Like other members of this genus (and many in the family), each bloom is tubular with a pronounced lower lip. The overall color is a rich purple/lavender, but the outer side of the petals is white. This can be variable, however. Skullcap flowers are pollinated by bees.
Though our native mints make wonderful additions to the home landscape, few of the skullcaps are grown commercially in Florida. I am not aware of hoary skullcap ever being offered by nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries, but it is propagated by several nurseries north of Florida. We just recently acquired some material and will be testing it out in our landscape at Hawthorn Hill. Perhaps someday, we can make this beautiful native mint available to others.
The landscape range of this plant has not been tested. Until it is, it would be best to limit its use to the northern third of Florida. Plant it in sunny locations and mass it in clusters of 5-7 plants for best effect. Hoary skullcap wold be best used with other medium-tall wildflowers and should perform well in nearly any typical home landscape setting. Though it prefers a sunny location, it will do fine in partial sun as well.