Wood Betony

Pedicularis canadensis

La bétoine, l’épiaire officinale

Wood Betony is a valuable native flower that is an indicator of pristine prairies. Its’ roots attach to the roots of nearby plants and uptake nutrients. Thereby, wood betony parasitizes other plants, using them as a water and nutrient source. This parasitism helps reduce the vigor of the tall prairie plants.

Flowers are attractive to butterflies, birds and bees as well as some species of ants.

Pedicularis can be used to relax sore muscles such as shoulders, arms, and backs, although there are precautions to take. As it is a plant that uses nutrients from other plant roots (although this is not always the case, they can flourish without the use of other plant roots), this can create other types of toxins to form. If you are planning on using this plant for herbal remedies, just ensure that it is not planted near a toxic plant or grass (such as Arrowgrass).

It has been used in prairie lands to control over domination of aggressive tall-grasses.

In nature Found in dry grassland, meadows and open woods..

Wood Betony is very showy when it is in full bloom. The Wood Betony is an easy-to-care for plant also known as “common lousewort.” Other names: hedgenettle, bishop’s-wort, purple betony.

Video on Pedicularis canadensis

Planting Pedicularis canadensis

Easily grown in well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Established plants tolerate some drought. May create colonies by self-seeding.

Companion plant suggestions include Lamiaceae (mint family)

Caring for Wood Betony

Also known as a hedge nettle, the Wood Betony is easy to care for and only requires preening every 3-4 years. It flowers between May and July, though its leaves stay green throughout the summer. The North American version of this plant is known as Pedicularis.

It is happiest in Fertile, well-drained soil.

In terms of water, Wood Betony needs Moderate requirement for water, tolerates some drought.

Pruning La bétoine, l’épiaire officinale

Required every 3-4 years. Low-maintenance plant.


No serious insect or disease problems.

May feed on the roots of other neighbouring plants; are semi-parasitic.

“Pedicularis” is the Latin word meaning “of or relating to lice”, as it was believed to give cows grazing in fields lice. “Canadensis” refers to Canada. This plant was eaten as a vegetable by some first nations, often as a soup. It was added to oats and used as horse feed as well as a remedy for stomacheaches, diarrhea, anemia, heart problems, swelling, sore muscles, ect…