Capitate lousewort – Pedicularis capitata

Alaska Wildflowers | Yellow

The yellow flower of the capitate lousewort (Pedicularis capitata)

Capitate lousewort

Pedicularis capitata

Common Names

capitate lousewort
many-headed lousewort

Synonyms

Pedicularis nelsonii

Subspecies

none

Genus: Pedicularis
Family: Orobanchaceae
Order: Lamiales
Full Classification

Duration – Growth Habit

Perennial – Forb/herb



Identification and Information

Capitate lousewort is an herbaceous plant that grows from a slender rhizome. The stem is 2-14 cm (0.75-5.5 inches tall), unbranched, and without leaves. The plant has 2-3 ovate or elliptic, pinnatifid (feather-like or fern-like) basal leaves. The leaf surface may be glabrous or hirsute.

The inflorescence is one or two capitate racemes with 2-8 flowers. It has leaf-like green or reddish-tinged bracts. The flowers are composed of a calyx (sepals) that are 5-lobed and 10-15 mm long. The corolla (petals) are a longer, 19-40mm long, curved, two-lobed helmet that is light yellow to cream and diffuse purple at the apex. The corolla tube contains 4 sets of 2 stamens.

Similar to Labrador lousewort, P. capitata is partially parasitic.

One Inuit name for the flower is kukiujait, meaning resembles you fingernail, they are also called bananas because the corolla looks somewhat like a banana.


Affiliate link – I earn a commission if you shop through the link(s) below at no additional cost to you (more info)

Uses

For information only (typically historical) – I take no responsibility for adverse effects from the use of any plant.

The plant contains poisonous glycosides, however, there are references to the corolla (petals) being edible and sweet tasting.


Affiliate link – I earn a commission if you shop through the link(s) below at no additional cost to you (more info)

Distribution and Habitat

In North America, P. capitata is found in Alaska, northern Canada, as well as British Columbia and Alberta. The USDA also lists Quebec, but I found no other records of instances there. It is also found in northern and eastern Siberia. Both the USDA and GBIF list Greenland as well, but it is worth noting that GBIF only has one reported occurrence.

Its habitat mostly consists of arctic or alpine tundras and alpine slopes. It prefers moist soils, but tolerates a wide range of soils with different moisture content.

Classification

RankScientific Name (Common Name)
KingdomPlantae  (plantes, Planta, Vegetal, plants)
   SubkingdomViridiplantae  (green plants)
      InfrakingdomStreptophyta  (land plants)
         SuperdivisionEmbryophyta 
            DivisionTracheophyta  (vascular plants, tracheophytes)
               SubdivisionSpermatophytina  (spermatophytes, seed plants, phanérogames)
                  ClassMagnoliopsida 
                     SuperorderAsteranae 
                        OrderLamiales 
                           FamilyOrobanchaceae  (broomrape)
                              GenusPedicularis L. (lousewort)
                                 SpeciesPedicularis capitata M.F. Adams (capitate lousewort)

References and Further Reading

Guidebook

Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg. 32

Classification and Taxonomy

Pedicularis capitata M.F. Adams Taxonomic Serial No.: 33353, ITIS Database

Pedicularis capitata M.F. Adams capitate lousewort, USDA Database

Uses

Pedicularis capitata : Many-headed Lousewort, Central Yukon Species Inventory Project

Pedicularis capitata Published by Daniel Mosquin on July 5, 2017, UBC Botanical Garden

Map and Distribution

P. capitata Capitate Lousewort, NatureServe Explorer

P. capitata Adams Published in: Adams. In: Mem. Soc. Nat. Mosc. 5: 100. (1817), GBIF

Description and Information

Pedicularis capitata : Many-headed Lousewort, Central Yukon Species Inventory Project

P. capitata Adams Nouv. Mém. Soc. Imp. Naturalistes Moscou 5: 100. 1817., Flora of North America

Pedicularis capitata Adams, Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago

Support This Site

Consider becoming a member to access exclusive perks and support the sustainability of this valuable resource. Already a member? Log in here!

Level

Free

Trailblazer Monthly

Explorer Monthly

Patron Monthly

Price

Free.

$3.00 per Month.

$6.00 per Month.

$10.00 per Month.

Description

golden sunlight diffuses through the dense stand of snow-laden spruce trees, casting long shadows and bathing the forest in a warm, hazy light.

  Select Select Select Select
Occasional Newsletter Yes Yes Yes Yes
Free Articles Yes Yes Yes Yes
Exclusive Content* No Yes Yes Yes
Ad-free browsing** No No Yes Yes
Discounts on Prints No No Yes Yes
Priority Responses For Questions No No No Yes
Advanced Notice On New Content No No No Yes
More In-depth Content No No No Yes
  Select Select Select Select

Free

golden sunlight diffuses through the dense stand of snow-laden spruce trees, casting long shadows and bathing the forest in a warm, hazy light.

  • Occasional Newsletter
  • Free Articles
Select

Free.

Trailblazer Monthly

  • Occasional Newsletter
  • Free Articles
  • Exclusive Content*
Select

$3.00 per Month.

Explorer Monthly

  • Occasional Newsletter
  • Free Articles
  • Exclusive Content*
  • Ad-free browsing**
  • Discounts on Prints
Select

$6.00 per Month.

Patron Monthly

  • Occasional Newsletter
  • Free Articles
  • Exclusive Content*
  • Ad-free browsing**
  • Discounts on Prints
  • Priority Responses For Questions
  • Advanced Notice On New Content
  • More In-depth Content
Select

$10.00 per Month.

* I don’t plan on hiding much content behind a paywall because I believe it should be open and accessible to all. However, maintaining this website involves a significant investment of both time and money. I spend countless hours building and writing these pages and articles and incur thousands of dollars annually to keep the site running.

Your support through membership helps cover these expenses and allows me to continue providing high-quality content. Membership allows you to access exclusive perks and content and contribute to this valuable resource's sustainability. Thank you for your support!

** Ads and affiliate links will still be shown on relevant content, like in gear reviews.

   

Add a comment

*Please complete all fields correctly

Related Posts

Cypripedium guttatum spotted lady’s slipper
Vaccinium uliginosum Bog bilberry
The purple flower with numerous yellow stamens of the prairie pasqueflower (Pulsatilla nuttalliana)