Pedicularis sudetica : Sudeten Lousewort


Scientific Name:

Kingdom: Plantae


Class: Dicoteldonae (two seed-leaves)

Family: Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)

Genera: Pedicularis (Lousewort, Fernweed) (Lat. pediculus = a louse; animals who ate these plants were said to be protected from lice.)

Species: sudetica (of the Sudetes, a mountain range of east-central Europe)

Synonym(s): P. sudetica ssp. interior / albolabiata / pacifica

English Name(s):

Sudeten Lousewort, Sudetic/Swedish Fernweed, Purple Rattle

First Nation Names:



  • Plants herbaceous (not woody).
  • Stems single or several together, 4-35cm or more high, purplish, usually leafless.
  • From a stout branched rhizome (rootstock) with spindle shaped roots.


  • Basal leaves long petioled (stalked).
  • Pinnate or pinnately lobed.
  • Segments dentate (toothed) to pinnately lobed.
  • Cauline (stem) leaves 1 or 2 or lacking.

Reproductive Parts:

  • Inflorescence (flower cluster) several to many flowered, at first capitate (head-like) but soon elongating, the flowers spirially arranged.
  • Flowers perfect (bisexual), irregular in symetry.
  • Bracts usually simmilar to leaves but quite small.
  • Calyx (sepals) 8-12mm long, with 5 narrow lobes, white-woolly to glabrous (hairless).
  • Corolla (petals) 15-24mm long, upper lip arching, with 2 small teeth at top, dark purple, lower lip 3-lobed, pink or spotted.
  • Stamens (male parts) 4, in 2 pairs.


  • Fruit is a capsule.
  • Seed capsules 9-14mm long, flattened, oblong in shape and abruptly contracted to a short beak, splitting open lenghtwise between the partitions into the central cavity.
  • Seeds large, relatively few per plant.

Not to Be Confused With:

  • The 2 coloured flowers with a purple upper lip and pink lower lip and few to no stem leaves distinguish Pedicularis sudetica (Sudenten Lousewort) from the other Louseworts.



  • These plants are partial parasites with no outward sing of differing from normal, self-supporting plants.
  • P. sudetica (Sudeten Lousewort) was once divided into a number of sub-species but are now all considered one.

Life Cycle:

  • Perennial

Seasonal Cycle:

  • Leaves deciduous (falling off).
  • BLooming to mid-July, mostly gone to seed by third week of July.


Animal Uses:

  • Animals will not eat these plants as they contain poisonous glycosides.
  • Their blossoms are typical bee flowers, with landing platforms, abundant nectar, and bright colours.
  • It is interesting to note that Pedicularis (Louseworts) and Bombus (Bumblebees) share the same geographic range.


  • Rather wet calcareous tundra and lakeshores.
  • Dry to wet meadows and lake shores in tundra, heathlands and woods.




  • Flower stalks, dried, are used for olive green dye.
  • Despite its name, no reference to the use of Pedicularis (Louseworts) for repelling lice was found.


  • An infusion using 7-15ml per 250ml water is said to be an effective sedative. It is also said to act as a mild relaxant for skeletal muscles and the cerebruim, queting anxiety and tension.
  • The plant fresh or dried has mild astringent and antiseptic properties and is used to stop bleeding of minor injuries.


  • Roots or young flowering stems of all Pedicularis (Louseworts) can be eaten raw or used as a pot-herb.

Traditional Gwich'in:





          Traditional Other:





                • Siberian natives eat young shoots boiled in soup.


                Plant in bloom

                Flowers two coloured. pink/purple to white

                Illustration from: Illustrated flora of BC

                Range Maps

                World Range: Circumpolar, arctic-alpine; in N.A. from NU to AK, south to James Bay and BC.

                Prov/State Abrev. List

                In Yukon: Found throughout much of the Yukon Territory

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