Botanical name: Scutellaria suffrutescens
Size: 8 – 12 inches tall by 2 feet wide
Bloom time: May through November
Leaves: small, resembles thyme
A perennial herb — part of the mint family – skullcap is a native to the northeastern region of Mexico. The name comes from its resemblance to the medieval cap worn by men. It has a neat, compact mounding growth habit that works well as an edging plant or ground cover. The tiny snapdragon-like blooms are plentiful and look lovely spilling over a rock wall.
Pest or Disease Problems: None
Growing in North Texas:
Plant in full or part sun in average soil with good drainage. Once established, the water requirements are low even during the hot summer months. Although not necessary, giving skullcap an occasional shearing will prevent the middle from getting too thin by encouraging newer growth. Early spring is a great time to prune out the old woody limbs.
Propagate skullcap indoors during the winter months from seed or root a stem cutting during the growing season.
High Plains Gardening, Scutellaria suffrutescens
Online Plant Guide, Pink Texas Skullcap
Keywords (tags): sun, part shade, perennial, herb, pink flowers, drought tolerant, low growing
- Plant Profile: Texas Skullcap
- Mad-dog Skullcap Herb Seeds (500mg)
- How to Identify an Herb Plant
- How to Grow Scutellaria Plants
- Scutellaria Growing and Care Guide
Plant Profile: Texas Skullcap
- August 12, 2019
- Plant Profile
Pink Skullcap: a great Texas plant from Mexico by way of North Carolina
Scutellaria suffrutescens is a plant known by many names. We typically call it Texas Skullcap, but it’s also called: Pink Skullcap, Pink Texas Skullcap, Texas Pink Skullcap, Cherry Skullcap, and Texas Rose Mexican Skullcap.
Whatever you call it, this is an excellent ground cover for North Texas. It’s a low-growing, woody, deciduous perennial with a mounding, symmetrical growth habit. It will drop its leaves in winter, but won’t die back to the ground. Instead, it’ll look like a flat tumbleweed. In spring, it will leaf out on the old wood. You’ll find it to be bit taller in the middle and shorter on the edges, and it will grow wider every year. Average height is 8-18 inches tall and and 24-30 inches wide. But it can grow wider if you let it.
The photo below is from my backyard. I planted this skullcap in 2013 and haven’t touched it since. It’s now 16 inches tall and 5 feet across!
There’s a lot to love about this skullcap. First of all, it blooms like crazy from spring through fall with a beautiful mass of rosy-red to pink snapdragon-like flowers that attract bees and butterflies. Second, it has no insect or disease issues. It’s about as low maintenance as a plant gets. Just put it in the ground and ignore it and it will thrive on neglect. Third, it’s VERY heat and drought tolerant and needs very little water once established. This is an excellent choice for a rock garden, xeriscape, large container, or any area with little of no irrigation. Just be sure to plant it in full sun. It will take part sun, but you’ll get far more blooms in full sun.
The name Texas Skullcap is a misnomer, as the plant is native to Mexico, not Texas, and it was named by Plant Delights Nursery, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Sound confusing? Let me explain.
Texas Rose Mexican Skullcap – Scutellaria suffrutescens ‘Texas Rose’ (the variety we sell at Shades of Green) – was originally collected in 1986 by horticulturists Dave Creech, Ray Jordan, and the late Lynn Lowery near Horsetail Falls, west of Monterrey, Mexico. In 1990, Stephen F. Austin horticulture alum Tim Kiphart, a former student of Dr. Creech, returned to Horsetail Falls and found a darker flowering pink skullcap and sent it to Tony Avent at Plant Delights who named it ‘Texas Rose.’
If you find that a bit confusing, don’t worry. All that matters is that this plant is an excellent choice for any sunny North Texas garden. If you’re interested, you can find it at Shades of Green.
Common Name: Texas Skullcap, Pink Skullcap
Latin Name: Scutellaria suffrutescens
Pronounced: skew-teh-LARE-ee suf-roo-TES-kens
- Shades of Green plant database
- Dave’s Garden
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
- Best of Texas
About the Author: Tim Wardell is a Texas Certified Nursery Professional and the Marketing Coordinator for Shades of Green, Inc.
Mad-dog Skullcap Herb Seeds (500mg)
For single seed packets of Mad-dog Skullcap, please visit PatriotSeeds.com to purchase.
Mad-dog Skullcap (500mg):
Mad-Dog Skullcap is a perennial wildflower also known as Blue Skullcap. Its buds are reminiscent of Bluebells, but it is an herb in the mint family. Traditionally, Mad-Dog Skullcap is believed to reduce anxiety and improve a person’s mood. Grow this beautiful and useful wildflower in your garden with heirloom herb seeds from Patriot Seeds. Our seeds are sourced in the USA, 100% heirloom and Non-GMO. They also come in a resealable heavy-duty 4 layer packages, so you can store the seeds for 5+ years. When you’re ready to declare your food independence, buy Patriot Seeds!
Mad-dog Skullcap Planting Instructions:
Start by stratifying the seeds, placing them in a sealed plastic bag with a moistened vermiculite, sand, or damp paper towel. Refrigerate the seeds this way for a week. Next, plant the seeds indoors for a 2 week germination period. After the last frost, transplant the seedlings outdoors in full sun or partial shade. Plant seeds 1/16″ deep in moist, well-draining soil. The plants should be spaced a foot apart. Be careful not to overwater.
Mad-dog Skullcap Harvesting Instructions:
When the plant is in bloom, you can harvest the aerial parts 3″ above the ground for use in teas, tinctures, or liniments. You may use the herb fresh or dry it for long-term storage.
Did You Know This About Mad-dog Skullcap?
Mad-dog Skullcap’s unusual name has its origin in traditional medicine. The herb was once used as a folk remedy for rabies.
About Mad Dog Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) 1 Nurseries Carry This Plant
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Scutellaria lateriflora, is a herbaceous plant also known as Blue skullcap, Hoodwort, Virginian skullcap, mad-dog skullcap is a hardy perennial herb native to North America. It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, which also includes many other herbs. The form is upright and is usually 0.2 meter to 0.45 meter in height. It is a wetland loving species and grows along fens and shorelines. The blue flowers appear in July to September and are 10-20 millimeter; long. Most of the flowers do not appear at the top of the main stem, but are produced along the length of side branches that grow from the nodes of the main stem. The flowers are grouped in pairs and orientate themselves to one side of the branches. The name of the species, ‘lateriflora’ means having ‘lateral flowers’ or ‘flowers to the side.’ Scutellaria lateriflora is used in herbal medicine as a mild sedative and sleep promoter. Scutellaria, as a genus, has numerous medicinal uses and various species of skullcap are used in the same way. It should be noted though that the traditional uses of Virginian Skullcap should not be confused with those of other Skullcaps as there are 200 different species of Skullcap and they are not all used in the same way. Blue skullcap is often used in the same way as for Common skullcap (S. galericulata), Western skullcap (S. cordifolia), or Southern skullcap all of which are very genetically similar. Blue Skullcap and Common Skullcap are mainly known for their traditional use as an incense and herbal teas. Plant Description Plant Type Perennial herb
Size 0.7 – 2 ft tall
Flower Color Blue
Landscaping Information Sun Full Sun
Moisture Moderate – High
Ease of Care Moderately Easy
Soil Drainage Standing
Sunset Zones 4*, 5*, 6*, 7*, 8*, 9*, 10, 11, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17, 18, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24
Natural Setting Site Type Marshes, wet meadows
Climate Annual Precipitation: 14.8″ – 17.6″, Summer Precipitation: 0.24″ – 0.26″, Coldest Month: 48.0″ – 48.1″, Hottest Month: 72.8″ – 74.4″, Humidity: 1.66″ – 20.64″, Elevation: -13″ – 20″
Alternative Names Common Names: Blue Skullcap, Hoodwort, Mad-dog Skullcap, Virginian Skullcap
Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the “About” section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from “Seed Propagation of Native California Plants” by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual “normals” at an 800 meter spatial resolution.
Links: Jepson eFlora Taxon Page CalPhotos Wikipedia Calflora
Skullcap is the common name for plants in the Scutellaria family. They are called “skullcap” because the flowers resemble miniature medieval helmets. The two most commonly used skullcaps are the Baikal Skullcap, an Asian native and the Blue or Virginia Skullcap, a North American native.
The Baikal skullcap (S. baicalensis) is native to northern Asia, China and Korea. In Chinese medicine it is called Huang Qin and is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs. The dried root is used to treat insomnia, headaches, fevers and colds. It has demonstrated liver toxicity and is not recommended for use in people with diabetes.
Baikal skullcap is a perennial plant hardy in zones 4 through 8. It prefers full sun but will tolerate light shade. Plant it in well-drained soil. It is drought tolerant once it is established. The plants are small, only 12 inches tall. They grow along the ground rather than straight up so they are suitable as a ground cover. The purple flowers appear in May and are quite showy, growing on stems up to 12 inches in height.
Baikal skullcap is easily grown from seed that are started indoors 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost date. The seedlings can be transplanted outdoors after all danger of frost has passed.
The Blue Skullcap (S. lateriflora) is native to North America. The Native Americans used it to treat gynecological conditions and rabies (earning it the common name of Mad Dog Skullcap). Modern herbalists use it to treat anxiety and to relax muscles. Like its Asian counterpart, it has demonstrated liver toxicity. It should never be used by pregnant women because it can cause a miscarriage.
Blue skullcap is a perennial plant hardy in zones 6 through 9. It must be grown in full sun. It doesn’t tolerate any shade. It prefers wet soil. The plants grow upright to a height of 2 feet. The blue-purple flowers appear in June.
Blue skullcap can be grown from seed that are started indoors 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost date. The seed must be cold stratified for a week before planting. Once planted, germination should occur in 2 weeks. Seedlings can be planted outdoors once all danger of frost has passed.
These clump-forming plants are mint relatives, with the family’s typical square stems and paired leaves. Long, tubular flowers flare out into two lips, the upper one narrow and hooded, the lower one broad; in many species, the lower lip is marked in white. The species listed here are easy to grow in light, gravelly, well-drained soil; tolerate drought and alkaline soil.
- Native to Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Florida, Louisiana, Arizona, and Mexico.
- Upright, branching plant forms a mound 1 feet tall and wide.
- Oval, gray-green leaves to 1 inches long; lavender spring flowers about 12 inches across.
- Zones MS, LS, TS; USDA 7-10.
- Native to Georgia and South Carolina.
- Upright grower to 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide, with fuzzy, gray-green leaves to 3 inches long.
- Midsummer blooms are lavender-blue.
- Rare in nature and in commerce.
- Listed as a threatened species in Georgia.
resinous skullcap, prairie skullcap
- Zones MS, LS, TS; USDA 7-10.
- Native from Kansas and Colorado south to Texas and Arizona.
- Mounding plant 68 inches tall, 1 feet wide, with roundish, resinous, grayish green leaves less than 12 inches long.
- One-sided, elongated clusters of 1 inches., blue-violet flowers are produced in late spring.
- Deadhead to encourage intermittent bloom through autumn.
- Smoky Hills grows 1012 inches high and 1215 inches wide; flowers are deep purplish blue.
- Zones MS, LS, CS; USDA 7-9.
- From Mexico.
- Forms a dense mound to 1 feet tall, 112 feet wide, with oval, bright green leaves just 12 inches long.
- Deep rosy pink flowers to 1 inches long bloom from late spring until frost.
- Texas Rose is a superior selection.
scutellaria ‘Violet Cloud
- Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8.
- Sterile hybrid resulting from a cross between Scutellaria resinosa and Scutellaria suffrutescens.
- Forms a low mound about 8 inches high and 12 inches wide, with profuse deep violet blooms from late spring through fall.
- Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11.
- Native to Texas and Oklahoma.
- Mounding plant 610 inches high and a bit wider, with small, rounded, green leaves.
- Deep violet-blue, 12- to 1 inches-long flowers have prominent white anthers that give them a striped appearance.
- Blooms heavily in June, then off and on until frost.
- Good for massing and rock gardens.
- Evergreen in mild-winter areas.
Official or Common Skullcap belongs to the Lamiaceae (mint) family. The leaves are gently toothed and opposite each other on a square stem commonly found with mints. Pale blue flowers bloom in pairs on 2″ long stems that jut out from the leaf axils. Skullcap is an erect plant that tends to arch a little with many branched stems.
Common skullcap prefers damp conditions with partial shade to sun. The key is getting enough moisture. It really needs water to thrive. Drought conditions produce significantly smaller plants and leaves, for example, six to eight inches high compared to 18 to 24 inches high. Propagate by seed sown in the fall or spring. Seed needs cold conditions, for example in refrigerator, for about one month before planting for best germination.
I start seeds in February or March here in South Central Wisconsin. I get my seeds from Richo Cech at Horizon Herbs. Michael Moore suggests that skullcap is seeded “into moderately prepared beds in late spring, keep moist and covered with a bit of straw, thin out in the spring.”Something I plan to try.
For some reason, I experienced great difficulty in starting skullcap from seed this year. Gardening is always a surprise package! I ended up buying some really nice plants from Sandy Mush Herb Nursery as a last resort. Perhaps I’ll have better success with my next try at starting them from seed!
It never ceases to amaze me how growing familiar plants can differ so much from year to year. It keeps one humble.
seedlings in tray
Skullcap is an herbaceous (leaves and stems that die down at the end of the growing season to the soil level) perennial native to the United States. Skullcap is suppose to be hardy from minus 15 degrees to a minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. They generally return pretty readily, either self-sown or plants that survived the winter. I always like to start a few seedlings inside to assure I have skullcap in the garden. I usually find a generous number waiting for me without my help. This year proved differently. No seedlings emerged and I had great difficulty starting any. Have to wait and see how 2014 showcases.
I’ve harvested first year vibrant plants with success. However, Andrew Chevallier suggests harvesting 3 – 4 year old plants in summer in flower. My most successful year was a summer with lots of periodic rainfall and consistently moist growing conditions along with semi-shade provided by a large nearby tree. It thrives near water. I haven’t had unconditional success year to year due to swings in weather conditions. This 2012 summer drought coupled with additional abundant sunshine with the removal of the neighbor’s nearby tree was the absolute worse. It really brought home what type of growing conditions allow skullcap to thrive. This wet weather of early summer should prove beneficial!
A few helpful ways of Common Skullcap
- Key actions: sedative, nervine tonic, antispasmodic, a mild bitter
- “A sure treatment for almost any nervous system malfunction of mild or chronic nature, from insomnia to fear to nervous or sick headaches, and as a basic pallative-restorative when pasturing out from stress.” (Moore)
- “a perfect nervine….for all formulas; good for over thinkers: (William LeSassier via Wood)
- Headaches after stimulating meetings and events (take beforehand as a preventative) (Wood)
- Relieves anxiety and stress; strengthens a depleted nervous system; supportive and nourishing to the nervous system. (Hoffmann)
- Often found to be rapidly effective as well as safe in the easing of pre-menstrual tension. (Hoffmann)
- Useful where stress and worry cause muscular tension. (Chevallier)
- Restless leg syndrome and tremors of Parkinson’s disease. (Winston)
So in summary, I find it very helpful for tension headaches. One friend of mine asked for some Skullcap tincture when she felt a strong headache coming on and it relieved the headache surprisingly fast. I could see taking it before or after for a somewhat anticipated tense meeting, or those times my head is simply over-thinking everything and feeling on the distraught side of things. Or, as my friend experienced, take some Skullcap when I feel that tightening tension headache coming on.
Cech, Richo. (2000). Making Plant Medicine. Williams Oregon, A Horizon Herbs Publication.
Hoffmann, David. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Rochester, Vermont. Healing Arts Press.
Winston, David. (2003). Herbal Therapeutics. Broadway, N.J. Herbal Therapeutics Research Library.
Wood, Matthew. (2008). The Earthwise Herbal, A Complete Guide to the New World Medicinal Plants. Berkeley, California, North Atlantic Books.
Chevallier, Andrew (1996). The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. New York, New York, DK Publishing Inc.
Horizon Herbs seed catalogue.
How to Identify an Herb Plant
kitchen herbs image by PhotographerOne from Fotolia.com
Identifying an herb plant can be a challenge. The best way to do this is by trial and error–and by familiarizing yourself with the various types of herbs. Herb plants can be found in both food and medical applications. There are specific details which help identify certain herbs while others may be confused for non-herb vegetation. Understanding these details will help you identify an herb plant easily.
Look at the herb plant. Identify herbs such as basil and lemongrass by the leaf color; basil can range from a glossy green to purple, while lemongrass resembles the top of onions. Observing the leaves will help identify an herb plant such as rosemary (which looks like pine needles bunched together) or parsley (which can have curled or flat leaves). Other herbs have blossoms that accompany the leaves. Examples include: oregano (pink blooms and green leaves), sage (mauve blooms and grayish green leaves), or golden marjoram (pink blossoms and pointed leaves).
Examine the stems of the plant. Herb plants are identified by their non-woody stems. Herbs will not have a bark covering like trees, shrubs or many vines have.
Observe the insects in the surrounding area. Some herbs are natural pest control against moths, flies and ants. Examples of these herb plants include mint, spearmint, peppermint or pennyroyal. If you observe a section of the garden or ground that is visibly absent of these insects then you may have one of these herbs growing in the location.
Smell the aroma from the herb plant. Many herbs have distinctive smells that are dead giveaways of their identity. Basil has a strong earthy scent; fennel smells similar to licorice; mint has its own unique smell. Herbs such as cilantro and dill are more subtle, but can also be identified this way. Smell labeled herbs to help you associate a certain aroma with specific herbs. Look around fresh food markets and farmers markets for good examples.
Taste the herb. Herb plants can also have distinctive flavors. Examples such as basil, thyme, rosemary and dill have strong flavors that easily identify them. Find fresh herbs plants. Break off a small section. Place the piece on your tongue. You will immediately get the flavor of the herb. Make sure the plant is well-washed before trying this step.
Find a cookbook that uses herbs as one of the main ingredients. Most cookbooks using these types of recipes will have descriptions or pictures of the herbs being used. This will provide identifying information and ways which specific herb plants can be used. Read as many herb cookbooks and guides as you can. This will help you learn more about each type of herb.
How to Grow Scutellaria Plants
Scutellaria Growing and Care Guide
- Common Names: Skullcap, Helmet flowers.
- Life Cycle: Hardy perennial.
- Height: 2 to 40 inches (5—100 cm). Most garden species are low growing, but some members are sub-shrubs.
- Native: Temperate regions.
- Growing Region: Zones 3 to 8.
- Flowers: Summer.
- Flower Details: White, red, yellow, blue, purple. Hooded. Upper and lower lips. Tubular.
- Foliage: Herbaceous. Opposite. Leaf shape varies, typically oval or lanceolate to ovate. Often woody at the base.
- Sow Outside: Cover seed. Autumn using freshly available seed. Germination time: two weeks to six months. Seeds should first be sown into flats. Next sink the flat into the ground in an area that offers shade, preferably close to a wall that faces north. Provide a glass/plastic covering. Keep an eye on the flats to ensure that the soil remains moist and to check if seedlings have emerged. After two years of growth, transplant the seedlings to their final location in the autumn. Space at 8 to 24 inches (20—60 cm) depending on species size.
- Sow Inside: No.
- Requirements and care: Full sunlight or partial shade. Good drainage. Neutral to slightly acidic soil (pH 6—7). Moist soil. Give enough water to ensure soil does not dry out. Spring mulch. Pinch tips of juvenile plants to encourage bushiness. Propagate: by dividing at the start of spring, of from cuttings of softwood in the summer.
- Closely Related Species:
- Miscellaneous: The common names Skullcap derives from the resemblance of the flowers to medieval helmets. The Latin name is derived from the word for small dish/tray (scutella). Members of the genus are used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat inflammation, hepatitis, diarrhea, and to ward off superficial evil.