Helmet Skullcap

34

A flower folding over a painter’s delight splashes of bright white.

Last week, I wrote about a rare and endangered mint, the Havana skullcap, Scutellaria havanensis. This week’s wildflower, the Helmet Skullcap, Scutellaria integrifolia, is in the same genus as the Havana, but not rare or endangered. The Helmet plant and flower structure is almost the same as the Havana but, there are fewer and thicker square shaped stems.  Leaves have a longer leaf stalk with an ovate leaf with slightly toothed margins giving a spatula like appearance. Leaves and stems are heavily covered with tiny hairs. Overall height is 18 to 24 inches.

The dark blue flower’s corolla has two lips between which is a deep corolla tunnel housing the plant’s sex organs. The upper lip has two lobes fused into a hook like shape that bends over the corolla tunnel. The lower lip has three fused larger lobes. The middle lobe has a pair of white markings to attract pollinating bees that will crawl into tunnel hunting for nectar glands.  Flowers are covered with thick hairs.

The specimen in the picture was found last summer in the Estero Bay Buffer Zone Preserve.

 

Dorothy Rodwell