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False dragonhead

False dragonhead

False dragonhead

Obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana), also known as false dragonhead, is a flowering plant in the mint family that is easy to grow. True to its name, the plant's individual flowers are "obedient" and can bend in any direction. Unfortunately, this fast-growing perennial is not so obedient in the garden, where it can spread quite aggressively by rhizomes. Its other common name, false dragonhead, likely came about because of the flowers' resemblance to snapdragons.

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False dragonhead is a member of the mint family that grows 3–4 feet tall and forms dense spikes of pink or lavender snapdragon-like flowers. When you push one of the flowers sideways, it "obediently" stays in place for a while. It's a native perennial with single or sparingly branched, hairless stems that are square in cross-section. The flowers are in long, terminal spikes with a few lateral spikes, tightly spaced in vertical rows, pink to pale lilac with darker purplish markings, funnel-shaped with a hoodlike upper lip and a 3-divided lower lip, lacking scent. Blooms May–September. Leaves opposite, stalkless, narrowly lance-shaped, sharply toothed, to 5 inches long.

Eastern false dragonhead is an herbaceous perennial wildflower found in moist to wet pinelands and marsh and swamp edges throughout much of Florida. It blooms late spring through early fall and is especially attractive to bees, although butterflies and the occasional hummingbird are known to visit it. The seeds are eaten by birds.Martha Crone wrote in the Friends newsletter in Oct. 1968: "The False Dragon Head also known as Obedient Plant or Lion's Heart, is a good reliable perennial of easy culture giving a great deal of satisfaction in a border. It likes rather moist soil altho will do well in an ordinary garden. The flowers range from purplish red through rosy pink, Closely borne in graceful terminal spikes on erect stems. The blossoms may be pushed in any direction and will retain this pose for some time. On windy days the flowers all turn in one direction. When once established they spread readily. They bloom continuously from July through September and are very resistant to frost." (Source: www.friendsofthewildflowergarden.org)

 

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