Pedicularis verticillata : Whorled Lousewort


Scientific Name:

Kingdom: Plantae


Class: Dicoteldonae (two seed-leaves)

Family: Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)

Genera: Pedicularis (Lousewort, Fernweed) (Lat. pediculus = a louse; animals who ate these plants were said to be protected from lice.)

Species: verticillata (Lat. vertere = to turn; referring to the whorls or circles of flowers along the main stem)

English Name(s):

Whorled Lousewort, Whorled Fernweed, Bumblebee Flower

First Nation Names:



  • Plants herbaceous (not woody).
  • From a weak branching taproot.
  • Stems few to 25 or more, 8-30cm tall, simple (unbranched), erect-ascending.


Reproductive Parts:

  • Inflorescence (flower cluster) capitate (head-like), but soon elongating, many-flowered.
  • Flowers perfect (bisexual), irregular in symetry.
  • Bracts like stem leaves but smaller.
  • Calyx (sepals) 3-7mm long, with 5 triangular teeth, more or less pubescent (hairy), ciliate (margin hairs), purple-viened.
  • Corolla (petals) 11-16mm long, purplish to rose pink, tube sharply bent, upper lip sloghtly arched about as long or shorter than lower lip, neither beaked nor toothed, lower lip 3-lobed.
  • Stamens (male parts) 4, in 2 pairs.


  • Fruit is a capsule.
  • Seed capsules flattened, splitting open lenghtwise between the partitions into the central cavity, 10-15mm long, lanceolate and pointed in shape, often bent to one side.
  • Seeds large, relatively few per plant.

Not to Be Confused With:

  • Pedicularis sudetica (Sudenten Lousewort) which has 2 coloured flowers purple upper lip and pink lower lip and few to no stem leaves.
  • Pedicularis langdorfii (Langdorf's Lousewort) whose flowers are more pink and the cauline (stem) leaves are alternate as opposed to whorled.
  • Pedicularis lanata (Woolly Lousewort) whose flowers are more pink and the cauline (stem) leaves are alternate as opposed to whorled and is generally quite woolly.



  • These plants are partial parasites with no outward sing of differing from normal, self-supporting plants.

Life Cycle:

  • Short lived Perennial
  • .

Seasonal Cycle:

  • Leaves deciduous (falling off).
  • Blooming in mid-July.


Animal Uses:

  • Animals will not eat these plants as they contain poisonous glycosides.
  • Their blossoms are typical bee flowers, with landing platforms, abundant nectar, and bright colours.
  • It is interesting to note that Pedicularis (Louseworts) and Bombus (Bumblebees) share the same geographic range.


  • Damp meadows, tundra turf, rocky slopes, heath, and woodlands.




  • Flower stalks, dried, are used for olive green dye.
  • Despite its name, no reference to the use of Pedicularis (Louseworts) for repelling lice was found.


  • An infusion using 7-15ml per 250ml water is said to be an effective sedative. It is also said to act as a mild relaxant for skeletal muscles and the cerebruim, queting anxiety and tension.
  • The plant fresh or dried has mild astringent and antiseptic properties and is used to stop bleeding of minor injuries.


  • Roots or young flowering stems of all Pedicularis (Louseworts) can be eaten raw or used as a pot-herb.

Traditional Gwich'in:





          Traditional Other:






                  Pland in bloom

                  Pland in bloom from above

                  Flowers side view

                  Flowers top view


                  Illustration from: Illustrated flora of BC

                  Range Maps

                  World Range: Amphi-Beringian; in N.A. across AK to about longitude 135W in YT and NWT, south along coast to Haida Gwaii, BC.

                  Prov/State Abrev. List

                  In Yukon: West to about longitude 135W

                  To Top Of Page