Species of the Month - July 2016

Skullcap and Lesser Skullcap

Scutellaria galericulata and Scutellaria minor

Scutellaria galericulata

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.

Scutellaria galericulata

Above: Skullcap is often hidden among taller marshy vegetation.

Right: Jan Hamilton's photo of Skullcap from our recent field trip to Dalintober Farm

  Scutellaria galericulata

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.

Scutellaria galericulata

Skullcap flowers, side and front views

  Scutellaria galericulata


Lesser Skullcap

 Scutellaria minor

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".

Please send in
your Skullcap or Lesser Skullcap sightings using the form below, or email sightings@lnhg.org.uk with the details if you prefer.  If you are not sure of the identity of your plant, please send a photo to sightings@lnhg.org.uk, or put one on the LNHG Facebook page.

Date of sighting 
Grid reference 
Number seen 
Name of finder 
Your name (if different) 
Email (not needed if I already know it!) 
Any other details, e.g habitat, whether flowering    


By filling in this form you agree that the information contained in this form may be collated and disseminated manually or electronically for environmental decision-making, education, research and other public benefit uses in accordance with the LNHG data access policy.  Your email address will not form part of the record and will not be passed on to anyone.

Carl Farmer
LNHG Biological Records Manager

Note you can still send in records for past species of the month.  Here are the previous July species:

Jul 2014 - Melancholy Thistle
Jul 2013 - Emerald Damselfly
Jul 2012 - Grayling
Jul 2011 - Golden-ringed Dragonfly

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Complete list of Species of the Month

This project is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage

All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated.  Third photo on page is copyright Jan Hamilton.
Mouse over photos to see credits.