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Heart-leaved Skullcap (Scutellaria ovata ssp. ovata)

Life history

Species overview

Heart-leaved Skullcap (Scutellaria ovata ssp. ovata), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found in dry-mesic forests. Blooming occurs early June through late July; fruiting occurs late July through late August. The optimal identification period for this species is early June through late July.

Synonyms: Scutellaria cordifolia, Scutellaria mississippiensis, Scutellaria ovata, Scutellaria ovata ssp. calcarea, Scutellaria ovata ssp. mississippiensis, Scutellaria ovata var. versicolor, Scutellaria versicolor


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Leaves firm, 5 to 8 cm when well developed; bracts regularly exceeding the calyx, sometimes exceeding the corolla, sometimes petiolate and dentate.
  • Flower characteristics: Flowers blue or violet, seldom pink or white, on 1 or more racemes, to 1 dm; corolla 10 to 25 mm; lower bracts very different from the adjacent foliage leaves.
  • Fruit characteristics: Nutlets orange; seeds brown, often banded toward base and with pegs.
  • Leaf characteristics: Opposite, long-petioled, ovate to round-ovate, crenate (usually more than 12 teeth on each side), cordate at the base.


  • Blooming phenology: early June through late July
  • Fruiting phenology: late July through late August
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is early June through late July


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction: Rhizomatous
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Acer saccharum, Tilia americana, Quercus alba, Ostrya virginiana, Arisaema triphyllum, Allium tricoccum, Adiantum pedatum, Lithospermum latifolium, Actaea rubra, Juglans nigra, Cacalia muehlenbergii.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Heart-leaved Skullcap (Scutellaria ovata ssp. ovata). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Scutellaria ovata ssp. ovata in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS2S3
Global RankG5T5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in dry-mesic forests.
  • Soils: Clayey or rocky soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Heart-leaved Skullcap. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Oak Woodland 3
Southern Dry-mesic Forest 3

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Heart-leaved Skullcap. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Survey for and control invasive plants prior to conducting timber operations, as these can be spread by vehicles and often respond vigorously to increased light; see forestry BMPs for invasive species.
  • Although maintaining high overall forest canopy is important, silvicultural techniques which open small gaps in the canopy may be beneficial to this species.


Heart-leaved Skullcap Photo.

Photo © Janeen Ruby.

Heart-leaved Skullcap Photo.

Photo © Janeen Ruby.

Heart-leaved Skullcap Photo.

Photo © Robert H. Read.

Heart-leaved Skullcap Photo.

Photo © Roberta Herschleb.

Heart-leaved Skullcap Photo.

Photo © Roberta Herschleb.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition