Coiled Lousewort
Pedicularis contorta Benth.
Family: Scrophulariaceae, Figwort
Genus: Pedicularis
Other names: coil-beaked lousewort
Nomenclature: contorta = twisted (upper lip)
Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant
Toxic plant
No medicinal data

General: perennial from a stout root crown, stems several, clustered, hairless throughout (except var. ctenophora), 15-60 cm tall, from fibrous roots.

Leaves: the basal ones 5-18 cm long, the blade about equaling or longer than the stalk, 1-3.5 cm wide, pinnately divided into many segments that are narrow, not crowded, with small, sharp teeth. Stem leaves alternate, gradually smaller and shorter-stalked to stalkless higher up.

Flowers: several in a tall, narrow cluster, seldom very dense. The bracts narrow, deeply 3-lobed or pinnately to palmately cleft. Calyx tube pale and slightly membranous between the 5 darker veins. Calyx lobes 5, narrow, entire, the upper one the shortest. Corolla ochroleucous or white, often finely marked with purple (wholly pink or purple in var. ctenophora), about 1 cm long, the upper lip short, strongly arched, gradually narrowed into an elongate, downcurved beak which is only slightly, if at all, protruding from the well-developed, very broad lower lip. June-August.

Fruits: capsules with many seeds.


Wooded or open slopes and drier meadows at moderate to high elevations in the mountains, in w. and c. parts of MT. Also from B.C. and Alberta to n. CA, c. ID, and WY.
var. contorta:
Toxic Properties

Louseworts can be eaten in small quantities in an emergency, but contain enough poisonous glycosides to cause severe illness if they are eaten in quantity.

Sub taxa:

var. contorta Benth.:
Corolla white or ochroleucous. Calyx and bracts hairless.

var. ctenophora (Rydb.) A. Nels. & J.F. Macbr.:
Corolla pink or purplish. Calyx, and often also the bracts, slightly soft-long-hairy at the base.

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