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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

This plant is often grown in flower gardens, and some populations may represent escaped plants from cultivation. Usually, the horticultural forms are more rosy pink or purple in appearance than native wild populations, which are usually white with light pink or purple tints. Because the individual flowers stay in place when moved, one common name is 'Obedient Plant,' as used here. Another name is 'False Dragonhead' on account of the fancied resemblance to a European plant by that name. While this is a pretty plant, its ecological value to birds, mammals, and insects is fairly low. Return
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Description

This native perennial plant is up to 4' tall and unbranched, except near the inflorescence. The central stem is strongly four-angled and hairless. The opposite leaves are up to 5" long and 1½" across. They are sessile, hairless, lanceolate or oblanceolate, and have sharply-pointed widely-spaced teeth along the margins. The inflorescence consists of tall spikes of flowers at the ends of the upper stems. A spike is up to 10" long and consists of 4 rows of densely packed horizontal flowers or their buds. The tubular flowers are white, lavender, or purplish pink, and they often have dots, fine stripes, or swirls of a slightly darker color. Each flower is about 1" long, has 2 lips, while 4 purple anthers are visible near the upper lip. This upper lip is a broad hood, while the lower lip is divided into 3 lobes – the larger central one functioning as a landing pad for insects, which is accompanied by 2 smaller side lobes. The flowers have no scent.  The blooming period occurs during late summer to early fall, and lasts about 1½ months. Each flower produces 4 sharply angled, dull brown seeds. The root system consists of a central taproot and rhizomes. The latter promote the spread of this plant vegetatively.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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Ecology

Associations

Faunal Associations

Bumblebees are the most important pollinators of the flowers. Occasionally, other long-tongued bees and the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird may visit the flowers. These visitors seek nectar from the flowers. Like other members of the Mint family, the Obedient Plant is probably not a favored source of food for mammalian herbivores. Photographic Location
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Flower-Visiting Insects and Birds of Obedient Plant in Illinois

Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant)
(hummingbirds and insect visitors suck nectar; some bumblebees collect pollen, as indicated below; butterflies are non-pollinating; some observations are from Robertson, otherwise they are from Mitchell as indicated below)

Birds
Trochilidae: Archilochus colubris sn

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Bombini): Bombus pensylvanica sn fq, Bombus vagans sn cp; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Melissodes agilis (Mch), Melissodes bimaculata bimaculata sn, Melissodes rustica (Mch); Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile brevis brevis sn, Megachile latimanus (Mch)

Butterflies
Nymphalidae: Danaus plexippus sn np; Pieridae: Colias philodice sn np

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Physostegia virginiana

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Physostegia virginiana

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full or partial sun, and moist to average conditions. Growth is best in rich loamy soil, but it can contain some gravel or clay. During droughts, the lower leaves may turn yellow and fall off the stem. Otherwise, the foliage has fewer problems than most mints. This plant is easy to grow if the site is not too dry. At moist sites, it sometimes spreads aggressively. Range & Habitat
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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