Species of the Month - July 2016
Skullcap and Lesser Skullcap
Scutellaria galericulata and Scutellaria minor
Skullcap is a fairly
common plant of marshy ground and wet woodland, and of wet coastal rocks
and shingle. It has blue flowers in pairs up the stem, all on the
same side of the stem, not reaching the top of the plant.
Skullcap flowers from June to September. The flowers are about 12-20 mm long, and the plant is about 20-40 cm high. Each stem only has a few flowers open at any one time. Like many plants of the Mint family, to which it belongs, the flowers have two lips, the upper resembling a hood and the lower being lobed. The leaves are in opposite pairs, soft, with shallow rounded teeth and very short stalks.
Lesser Skullcap is much less common than Skullcap, and you will do very well to find it. It typically occurs in damp heather moorland with sphagnum. As with Skullcap, the flowers are in pairs and all on the same side of the stem, but they are pink instead of blue. The flowers are smaller than those of Skullcap, at about 6-10 mm long, and the plant is shorter at about 10-20 cm high. The leaves are untoothed, or may have one or two teeth on each side near the base. In side view the flowers are straight, not curved as in Skullcap.
Described as "very rare" by Gordon Rothero in his flora of vice-county 98, there are only two sites where it has been reliably recorded, and one of those was last observed in 1999. The few earlier records "require confirmation".
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