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Lopseed, American Lopseed - Phryma leptostachya


Family: Phrymaceae - Lopseed Family Genus Common Name: Lopseed Native Status: NativeDicot Perennial Herb
Phryma leptostachya - Lopseed, American Lopseed. Phryma is a monotypic (single species) genus, or two species if you consider the Asian Phyrma a separate species (Phryma oblongifolia.) The respected authority Weakley subscribes to the two-species definition based on results of a 2006 analysis by Nie, et al, although most publications list the Asian plant as a variety or subspecies of Phryma leptostachya. I don't know if this is because most authorities still consider Phyrma to be monotypic, or if it is simply because it takes time for the predominance of published works to be refreshed. Further, Phryma was the only genus in the Phrymaceae family for about 150 years (Schauer, 1847), although in the latter part of the 20th century most authorities placed Phyrma in Verbenaceae (Verbena family, Cronquist,1981), leaving Phrymaceae vacated. Now, based on work published in 2002 (Beardsley & Olmstead), Phrymaceae contains contains 11 genera with about 190 species, most in western North America; most moved from the Scrophulariaceae (Figwort) family. To further confuse the family relationships, later work (examples - Tank et al in 2006 and Barker et al in 2012) has suggested that Phrymaceae contains as many as 20 genera and 240 species.

However you classify it, Phryma leptostachya is found in the eastern two-thirds of the United States and Canada (Wikipedia description: "roughly, everywhere east of the Rocky Mountains"), plus in California, where it is a "garden waif" - not native, not naturalized, but surviving in gardens. It is Possibly Extirpated in Maine.

Found in:
AL, AR, CA, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV, WY

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Phryma leptostachya

Distribution of Phryma leptostachya in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 25 Jun 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Hamilton County, TN Date: 2013-August-16Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The flowers of American Lopseed are white or pink, or both, with a notched upper lip and 3-lobed lower lip. The stem is hairy and purplish, especially so in the inflorescence.
Phryma leptostachya

Site: Hamilton County, TN Date: 2013-August-16Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The distinctive characteristic of Phryma leptostachya is the positioning of the seeds. As the bloom moves up the stem, the persistent calyx lays down against the stem, giving the appearance of being “lopped off” and dangling against the stem.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Phryma leptostachya

Site: Sitton's Gulch, Cloudland Canyon State Park, Dade County, GA Date: 2013-July-09Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The flowers of Phryma leptostachya are only about a quarter of an inch long; you can see the small red ant leaving the corolla tube in this photo. As with the leaves, the flowers are opposing within the inflorescence, and usually bloom starting at the bottom, in pairs.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Phryma leptostachya

Site: Hamilton County, TN Date: 2013-August-16Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The leaves of American Lopseed are opposite on the hairy stem. The plant may branch at the axil of the leaves; that is also the position of any inflorescence other than those that are stem-terminating. The leaves are ovate, serrate, hairy, and usually about 2 times as long as they are wide.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Phryma leptostachya

Site: Sitton's Gulch, Cloudland Canyon State Park, Dade County, GA Date: 2013-July-09Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Because of the tiny flowers and woodland habitat, American Lopseed can be easily overlooked.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Phryma leptostachya

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer