Pedicularis canadensis

Wood Betony

$3.00 - $50.00

1/8 oz.
1/4 oz.
1/2 oz.
1 oz.

Wood Betony emerges in early April with surprising maroon foliage.  This fun color fades to traditional green as the leaves fan out and the spring season sets in.  Fuzzy stems rise to about 1’ tall and are sturdy enough to support the disproportionately large and rather ponderous-looking flowerheads.  Tiers of lipped, tubular blooms stretch and curve away, creating a layered pinwheel effect when viewed from above.  Most flowers are a buttery yellow, but some have coral-colored accents.  The blossoms fade and dry, leaving tiny little cupped structures which expel the seed when it is ripe. 

Pedicularis canadensis performs best in full sun or part shade; flowers and foliage hues are more potent in sunny sites.  This plant will tolerate a wide range of soil moistures as long as there is a decent amount of particulate matter and good drainage.  Wood Betony is a hemiparasitic species; it will tap into its neighbor’s root systems and siphon nutrients for its own benefit.  This may stunt the host, but typically it will not kill the surrounding plants.  Wood Betony is capable of supporting itself, but it will thrive if situated among other species.  

The early bloom time makes Wood Betony an important nectar source for emerging pollinators.  Queen Bumblebees frequently visit this species.

Also commonly called Canadian Wood Betony or Canadian Lousewort

Pedicularis canadensis - Wood Betony

Map Key

Present in state
Present but introduced in county
Present and native in county; not rare
Not present in state
Present and native in county; rare
Species extirpated (historic)
State or county listed as noxious
Present in state; exotic

This map shows the native and introduced (adventive) range of this species. Given appropriate habitat and climate, native plants can be grown outside their range.

5 Questions asked on Pedicularis canadensis

Do you know any particular grasses it favors as hosts so we can buy those seeds as well? Thanks.
The precise identity of Wood Betony's host plants remains uncertain- research still needs to be done in this area. Native grasses and asters are general groupings of host plants. You could try grass species such as Little Bluestem, June Grass, Pennsylvania Sedge, Hairy Grama and Blue Grama. Since this species is "hemi"parasitic- it is capable of normal growth and development even when suitable host plants are unavailable.
Would this be more successful if the seeds were included in the original planting or if it was added after plants were already established?
Hi Alan! We are a fan of adding hemi-parasitic species at the time of seeding a prairie. They often surprise you as to when and where they will come up. You certainly can add them to an established prairie, it just might be more labor-intensive or take longer.
How many wood betony seeds per acre should I plant. It's an established prairie that I'm trying to cut back the grasses.
Hi Jon, We recommend using 0.5 – 2 ounces per acre of Wood Betony in a restoration planting. If you are planning to inter-seed an existing prairie, you may find this guide from Xerces helpful.
Would it be possible to start this plant alone in a plug/pot without a host plant and then transplant in an area with grasses? As in, how quickly in its development does it need a host plant, if at all?
Hi Matt. Although Wood Betony benefits from having host plants nearby, hosts are not necessary for this species to succeed. We typically sow the hosting grass seeds at the same time as our hemiparastic species so their roots can develop together. But if you have grasses already established on the site, digging in your young Wood Betony plants should disturb the grass roots, making them accessible for the Wood Betony roots to tap into.
Do the grasses need to be native? I have a former pasture area with forage grasses that I would like to add this to.
Hi Robin. That is a great question. I assume you have cool-season Brome grass in this pasture? I think the answer is yes. We haven't tried this ourselves to be sure, but have seen Wood Betony in ditches that we know do not have native grasses, and they return each year so they are attaching to grass roots - likely cool-season Brome grasses as well.


Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.

Each species is different, so be sure to check the GERMINATION CODE listed on the website, in the catalog, or on your seed packet. Then, follow the GERMINATION INSTRUCTIONS prior to planting. Some species don't need any pre-treatment to germinate, but some species have dormancy mechanisms that must be broken before the seed will germinate. Some dormancy can be broken in a few minutes, but some species take months or even years.

Seed dormancy can be broken artificially by prolonged refrigeration of damp seed in the process of cold/moist STRATIFICATION. A less complicated approach is to let nature handle the stratifying through a dormant seeding, sowing seeds on the surface of a weed-free site in late fall or winter. Tucked safely beneath the snow, seeds will be conditioned by weathering to make germination possible in subsequent growing seasons.

To learn more, read our BLOG: How to Germinate Native Seeds

Dormant Bare Root Plants

We dig plants when they are dormant from our outdoor beds and ship them April-May and October. Some species go dormant in the summer and we can ship them July/August. We are among the few still employing this production method, which is labor intensive but plant-friendly. They arrive to you dormant, with little to no top-growth (bare-root), packed in peat moss. They should be planted as soon as possible. Unlike greenhouse-grown plants, bare-root plants can be planted during cold weather or anytime the soil is not frozen. A root photo is included with each species to illustrate the optimal depth and orientation. Planting instructions/care are also included with each order.

Download: Installing Your Bare-Root Plants

Potted Plants

3-packs and trays of 32, 38, or 50 plants leave our Midwest greenhouses based on species readiness (being well-rooted for transit) and order date; Spring shipping is typically early May through June, and Fall shipping is mid-August through September. Potted 3-packs and trays of 38 plugs are started from seed in the winter so are typically 3-4 months old when they ship. Trays of 32/50 plugs are usually overwintered so are 1 year old. Plant tray cells are approximately 2” wide x 5” deep in the trays of 38 and 50, and 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep in the 3-packs and trays of 32; ideal for deep-rooted natives. Full-color tags and planting & care instructions are included with each order.

Download: Planting and Care of Potted Plants

*PLEASE NOTE: we are a mail order nursery and have no retail facilities, but you may pick up your order if prior arrangements are made. Pick up orders are subject to **MN Sales Tax.

US Shipping & Handling Charges

SEED $100.00 and under: $5.00
Retail SEED orders over $100.00 ship free!

Custom seed mixes or discounted seed sales over $100, add 5% of the total seed cost
(for orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required)

BARE ROOT and POTTED PLANTS $50.00 and under: $9.00
over $50.00: 18% of the total plant cost. (For orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required.)

TOOLS and BOOKS have the shipping fee included in the cost of the product (within the contiguous US).

**We are required to collect state sales tax in certain states. Your state's eligibility and % will be calculated at checkout. MN State Sales Tax of 7.375% is applied for orders picked up at our MN location. Shipping & handling charges are also subject to the sales tax.

Shipping Season

SEED, TOOLS and BOOKS are sent year-round. Most orders ship within 1-3 business days.

BARE ROOT PLANTS are shipped during optimal transplanting time: Spring (April-May) and Fall (Oct). Some ephemeral species are also available for summer shipping. Since our plants are field-grown, Nature sets the schedule each year as to when our season will begin and end. We fill all orders, on a first-come, first-serve basis, to the best of our ability depending on weather conditions beyond our control.

POTTED PLANTS (Trays of 32/38/50 plugs and 3-packs) typically begin shipping early May and go into June; shipping time is heavily dependent on all the species in your order being well-rooted. If winter-spring greenhouse growing conditions are favorable and all species are well-rooted at once, then we ship by order date (first come, first serve). We are a Midwest greenhouse, and due to the challenges of getting all the species in the Mix & Match and Pre-Designed Garden Kits transit-ready at the same time, we typically can't ship before early May. Earlier shipment requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

*We are unable to ship PLANTS (bare root or potted) outside the contiguous US or to CALIFORNIA due to regulations.


We ship using USPS, UPS and Spee Dee. UPS and Spee Dee are often used for expediting plant orders; they will not deliver to Post Office Box numbers, so please also include your street address if ordering plants. We send tracking numbers to your email address so please include it when you order.



Germination Code
Life Cycle
Sun Exposure
Full, Partial
Soil Moisture
Medium-Wet, Medium, Medium-Dry, Dry
12 inches
Bloom Time
April, May
Bloom Color
Pollinator Favorite: butterflies, moths, bees, wasps, beetles
Bird Favorite: seeds, insects, fruit, nectar, nesting, perch
Deer Resistant
Highly recommended for home landscaping
USDA Zones
Plant Spacing
Catalog Code