Index- plants in this Family
Scrophulariaceae / Figwort
Carpenter's Square (Scrophularia marilandica)
Carpenter's Square is also known as American Figwort and Eastern figwort..

Plant Type: This is a herbaceous plant, it is a perennial which can reach a height of 3 Meters (10 feet ) . The stem is square and grooved.
Leaves: The leaf arrangement is opposite. Leaves can reach 25cm in length (10inches). Each leaf is petioled, toothed, ovate to lanceolate with the base of the lower leaves somewhat cordate.
Flowers: The flowers are irregular in shape and are up to 1cm long (0.4 inches). They are green with purple or brown upper lips. Blooms first appear in mid summer and continue into late summer. The upper lip is two parted and straight the side lips turn out the the lower lip turns down. There are four fertile stamensand an enlarged, undeveloped, sterile filament just under the upper lip which is brown or purple. Flowers in a loose terminal panicle.
Habitat: Rich woods. More common in the mountains.
Range: North central Florida north into Canada and west to the Great Plains.

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The name Figwort has nothing to do with figs but refers to the disease 'fig' or piles which the european species Scrophularia nodosa was once used to treat. The root was thought to resemble the swellings of piles which resemble figs. It was also use to treat scrofula (tuberculosis of lymph nodes usually in the neck).

Medical Uses: Although Native Americans once used a root tea as a tonic for fevers and various female complaints and it has been used in folk medicine as a mild tranquilizer it is not recommended that the plant be taken internally for self medication. The plant may be toxic in sufficient doses. The European species is known to cause blood in the urine and to effect the heart. The European species is used externally to treat sores, burns, eczema, earache and hemorrhoids. See 'More Info' below for more on the medical uses of this species.

Similar Species: Lanceleaf Figwort AKA Eastern Figwort and Hare Figwort Scrophularia lanceolata has more coarsely toothed leaves and the sterile filament is green or yellow. It flowers earlier and is found only as far south as the mountains of Virginia.

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More Info:  
The Search below may provide more information about this species. Some of URLs may have been used as a source for this page not otherwise cited. Most of the information not cited comes from multiple sources that can be found in the Books page. The USDA plant links are provided by: USDA, NRCS 1999. The PLANTS database ( National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA. You can check species names at ITIS Advanced Search to see if they meet the current ITIS taxonomic criteria.

By: Newcomb, Lawrence and Illustrated by Morrison, Gordon. 1977, Little, Brown and Company, ISBN:0-316-60442-9

One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.

Wildflo wers of Tennessee the Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians
By: Dennis Horn and Tavia Cathcart and Thomas E. Hemmerly and David Duhl. , ISBN:1551054280

This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.

Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Dicots / Two Seed Leaves



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