American lopseed (Phryma leptostachya)
Phryma leptostachya var. confertifolia Fern.
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name of American
lopseed is Phryma leptostachya L. Lopseed is an unusual plant that has
been assigned to its own plant family. It resembles members of the Mint
family (Lamiaceae) in many ways, but each of its flowers produces only
a single seed. In contrast, individual flowers of plants in the Mint family
typically produce either 2 or 4 seeds.
NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Habit: This native perennial plant is about 1½3' tall. It is more or less
erect and either sparingly branched or unbranched. The stems are light
green to dark purple, angular/terete, and slightly pubescent.
Leaves: Pairs of opposite leaves occur along each stem. The leaf blades
are up to 5" long and 2½" across; they are dull green, hairless, ovate in
shape, and crenate-dentate along their margins. The lower leaves have
slender petioles up to one-half the length of their blades, while the upper
leaves have much shorter petioles.
Flowers: The upper stems terminate in slender spike-like racemes of
flowers up to 1' long. In addition, secondary racemes are often produced
from the uppermost pairs of leaves. The flowers are arranged in opposite
pairs along the upper one-half or upper one-third of each raceme. The
central stalk of the raceme is usually dark purple. Each flower is up to 1/3"
(8 mm.) in length; it consists of a tubular-ovoid calyx and a slender corolla
that is pale purplish white and divides into two lips. The small upper lip
has a rounded edge, which is slightly indented in the middle; the long low-
er lip divides into 3 lobes, functioning as a landing pad for visiting insects.
Within the corolla, there is a single style and 4 stamens. The small calyx
is light green and hairless; it has 3 teeth that are long, slender, and purple
along its upper/outer side, while theopposite side of the calyx has a pair
of much smaller teeth. The pedicels of the flowers are very short; at the
base of each pedicel, there is a pair of tiny bracts (bracteoles). While indiv-
idual flowers are blooming, they are held horizontally; shortly afterwards,
their corollas fall away and their calyces bend downward to become ap-
pressed against the stalk of their racemes. Only a few flowers are in bloom
at the same time.
Fruit/Seeds: Each flower produces a single seed that develops within
Roots: Insufficient information; however, field observations indicate
lopseed has fleshy, vertical rhizomes.
REGENERATION PROCESS: American lopseed propogates itself
HABITAT TYPES: Habitats include rich deciduous woodlands in moist
to mesic conditions. Lopseed is largely restricted to higher quality wood-
lands where the original ground flora is still intact. While it is little known,
Lopseed has a wide distribution in North America and east-central Asia.
SITE CHCARACTERISTICS: American lopseed prefers a shelter-
ed location that provides light to medium shade, moist to mesic conditions,
and a rich woodland soil with abundant organic matter.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period occurs during the
summer and lasts 1-2 months.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: American lopseed has a wide distri-
bution in the United States and Canada. It occurs in all states and provinces
(except portions of the Canadian maritime provinces) from Texas north to
Manitoba east to the Atlantic Ocean. It does not naturally occur in the
extreme southwestern states, most of the Rocky Mountain states, or the
Pacific northwest, although it does occur in California. It does not occur
west of Manitoba in Canada.
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: Small bees occasionally visit the flowers
for nectar. Only two bees, Ceratina dupla and Augochlorella striata, have
been recorded as floral visitors of lopseed. The former species is a little
carpenter bee, while the latter species is a green metallic bee. Other
records of floral-faunal relationships are sparse. A polyphagous insect,
Proxys punctulatus (black stink bug), sucks juices from the foliage of
lopseed (and many other plants). White-tailed deer reportedly dislike
this plant as a food source and don't graze on the foliage.
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