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Herb Spotlight

Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

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Skullcap is a beautiful little herb that has many medicinal uses in herbal remedies. In this Herb Spotlight, we’ll take a look at it’s uses and how to grow it.
Even if you’re not confident to grow it for medicinal uses and home remedies, it is still a beautiful looking plant that will attract helpful insects into your garden.
Well worth having around!

 

Common Names:

  • Marsh skullcap 
  • Hooded skullcap
  • Mad-Dog Skullcap
  • Scullcap

Be careful with using common names to refer to herbs and plants as quite often, the same name will be given to different plants in different regions. If you are looking for Skullcap, it is advisable to learn the Latin name Scutelaria lateriflora, or at least write it down so you can get the plant you need when talking with a seller or nersery.

 

Description:

Skullcap grows to around two to four feet tall. It has beautiful blue to purple flowers when it blooms.The stems are slim and square with a reddish tinge to them. The stems branch off into other flowering branches

The leaves of the Skullcap are opposite, meaning you will find two leaves on opposite sides of the stem.They can be between half-inch to two and a half inches in length.

You will often find Skullcap flopping over a bit, or sometimes even all the way to the ground.The flowers can range in color from a reddish-violet to a blueish-purple, often with white markings on them.

Lower down the stem you will find little “skullcaps” (That’s where the name comes from because the buds look like hats) which will be green before they are ripe. 

The little flowers grow on one side of the stem, hence the name “lateriflora”. They have a really interesting shape, too. Some people have described them as looking like jumping dolphins and viewed from the side, this is pretty accurate in my opinion.

 

Growing:

Conditions:

Skullcap likes damp to marshy conditions. When found in the wild, its normally around riverbanks in full sun. While it likes it damp, it doesn’t like to be soaked or be standing in water. Saying that, it will tollerate wetter conditions more than dry ones. Make sure its well watered.

You’ll find it mostly in the North and North Eastern States.

 

Parts Used:

  • Stem
  • Leaves
  • Flowers
 
A photo of Skullcap to show the coloring and markings of the herb in bloom. Ready to be harvested for herbal medicines - OmniWild
Image Source: knowplant

Harvesting:

Harvest in the summer months when the flowers are in bloom and preferable before the “Skullcaps” are ripe.

You can cut the stems down to a few inches above the ground without worry and as they will grow back up again.

 

Properties:

Here is a list of medicinal properties associated with Skullcap.

  • Antispasmodic
  • Nervine Toner
  • Astringent
  • Calmative
  • Sedative
  • Nerve Pain
 

Skullcap’s Medicinal Uses:

Skullcap is used for its nerve nourishing and calmative properties mostly but it is also very effecting to loosen muscles.

Skullcap can also be effective in treating restless leg syndrome and muscle twitching. It is great to use for any kind of nervous and stress-induced conditions.

Another area that you can use this herb is in addictions. Alcoholism is often triggered by a stressful lifestyle or burn out. You can use Scullcap to help someone get through the detox, to keep them uplifted and relaxed and so they can kick the drink.

Scutellaria is also used to treat pain in the muscles. It is a great sedative without making you drowsy so you can use it during the day without it making you sleepy.

 

Warnings:
Skullcap should be avoided if you’re pregnant. Despite it’s name, Skullcap is safe even in quite large or frequent doses but overdose can occur. If you take more than your body can handle, you may feel confused, dizzy and may even experience seizures. This is pretty rare though.

Main Image Source: Rolf Engstrand [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

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