Scrophularia nodosa, the native Figwort is a hardworking perennial herb that will flower the first year from seed if started early. Great for use both as a pollinator magnet in the garden or as a cut flower filler for the vase.
Figworts are one of the most prolific nectar producers in the plant world and have been recognised by pollination ecologists as important as they attract a large numbers of native bees.
The leathery, long-lasting flowers attract more pollinators than any other plant around. A must grow for the bees, moths, butterflies and other pollinating insects, especially when planted in large clusters.
Growing 90 to 110 cm (36 to 42in) tall, the branching plants produce an abundance of long stems. From June to September the plants are smothered in small, chocolate and green hoodlike blooms, similar to tiny snapdragons, which ripen into egg-shaped seed capsules and those seed pods are just the perfect bouquet filler for interest and movement!
Seeds are usually sown in late winter to early spring 8 to10 weeks before last frost, or in late summer to autumn, when temperatures are around 18 to 25°C (62 to 75°F) Sow the seeds into cells or pots containing good quality seed compost. Sow on the surface and just lightly press into the compost.
Water from the base of the tray, and place in a sheltered position. Keep the compost moist but not wet at all times.
Prick out each seedling once it has its first set of true leaves, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots or trays to grow on. Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out after all risk of frost has passed.
Transplant to full sun and light soil; if the soil is rich, the stems get floppy. Plant 45cm (18in) apart.
Harvesting Cut Flowers:
Harvest stems and flowers on a dry morning. Pick when stem tips are no longer floppy and the flowers last up to two weeks in the vase.
The Figwort plant flowers from June to September, with the seeds ripening from July to September. The small snapdragon-like flowers are quite inconspicuous. After the flowers fade, the seeds develop in teardrop shaped seed capsules that brown and dry. They are easy to gather and clean. The seeds are easy to germinate but should be only lightly pressed into the seed starting mix.
Important for Bees:
Figworts are one of the most prolific nectar producers in the plant world and have been recognised by pollination ecologists as attracting a large numbers of native bees. Interestingly, the only other plant that comes close is Phacelia tanecetifolia.
The leathery, long-lasting flowers attract more pollinators than any other plant around. A must grow for not only the bees, but also moths, butterflies and other pollinating insects, especially when planted in large clusters.
Interestingly, Scrophularia was known as 'Simpson’s honey plant' in the US in the 1880’s when it was mass-planted in parts of the Midwest where beekeepers claimed a single acre could produce 400 to 800 pounds of honey that was prized for being light, clear, and aromatic.
In herbal medicine, Figwort is used to help those with skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis. In earlier times, practitioners recommended it as treatment for Scrofula – a form of tuberculosis which causes enlargement of the neck glands - hence its generic name, Scrophularia.
Figwort is a very esteemed yin tonic known as Xuan Shen in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Its roots are employed to 'cool the blood' and to clear inflammatory and infectious conditions, including psoriasis and eczema.
Scrophularia nodosa is a herbaceous perennial in the Scrophulariaceae family. It is a widespread herbaceous perennial in the Northern Hemisphere, its native range is being from Europe to Mongolia and northern Turkey.
It can be found growing in moist and cultivated waste ground. It can grow to around 2 to 3 feet tall from a horizontal rootstock.
Figworts are most commonly identified by their stiff square stems which is what gives them the common name 'carpenter square'. While plants in the mint family also have square stems they are not as distinct stiff and accurately square and tall as the Figworts.
The unwinged square stems of this plant help to distinguish it from the otherwise very similar Water Figwort, Scrophularia auriculata, which has an overall redder flower.
The genus was named by an Italian physician in 1474, the name Scrophularia comes from scrofula, a form of tuberculosis of the lymphatic glands that Figwort was historically used to treat. It is a throwback to the old Doctrine of Signatures wherein if a plant was seen to have a resemblance to a human condition or to human anatomy (in this case, a tumor or glandular swelling), the plant was thought to be associated with treatment of ailments of those conditions and body parts.
Just as it sounds, the specific epithet 'nodosa' refers to the conspicuous nodes on the stems of this wildflower.
Familiar names include Figwort and Common Figwort. Also Woodland and Knotted Figwort.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 250mg Average Seed Count 300 seeds Family Scrophulariaceae Genus Scrophularia Species nodosa Common Name Wildflower of Britain and Ireland Other Common Names Figwort and Common Figwort. Also Woodland and Knotted Figwort Other Language Names IR: Donnlus Hardiness Hardy Perennial Natural Flower Time Flowers June to September. Seeds ripen July to September Height 90 to 110 cm (36 to 42in) Spread 30 to 40cm (12 to 15in) Position Full sun to part shade Soil Tolerates partial shade and wet conditions. Harvest 120 days to maturity Time to Sow Usually sown in late winter to early spring or late summer to autumn