Purple Gerardia

Purple_Gerardia_jpgThis family (Scrophulariaceae) commonly called the Figwort or Snapdragon Family consists of 224 genera and 4,450 species of herbs and a few shrubs and trees.  Members of this family are cultivated as ornamentals including Snapdragons, Slipper-Flowers and Empress-Tree. The name of the figwort family (Scrophulariaceae) alludes to the plant’s use in ancient times as treatment for scrofula.  In this condition, the lymph nodes of the neck, infected with tuberculosis, swell to form hard, protruding lumps beneath the skin.  Figwort root resembles these swollen glands and according to the Doctrine of Signatures, which holds that a plant’s appearance (signature) indicated the ailments its treats, the herb was considered appropriate reamed for scrofula.  In the 16th and 17th centuries, figworts were the best medicinal plants for relieving all kinds of swellings and tumors.  Figwort’s traditional use as a treatment for swellings and tumors continues in Europe to this day.

OtherCommonName:

ScientificName:

Agalinis purpurea

Community:

Freshwater Wetlands

PlantStatus:

Native

LifeSpan:

Annual

PlantHeight:

5 inches to 4 feet

FruitingTime:

September to November

Distribution:

All of New Jersey ~ Nova Scotia to Florida

FloweringTime:

Late August to October

IdentifyingCharacteristics:

Flower rose-purple, single flower on stalk, each flower lasts only one day ~ Calyx (outermost set of floral leaves) pointed ~ Leaves narrow, linear, entire, to 2 inches long ~ Stems branched, smooth