Coiled Lousewort
Pedicularis contorta
Family: Scrophulariaceae, Figwort
Genus: Pedicularis

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 galea 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.
Flowering time: June-August.
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.

Toxic plant: see below.
(click on image for full size)

English Names Index
Scientific Names Index
Family Index
var. contorta:
(click on images for full size)

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.


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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