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Obedient Plant, False Dragonhead, Obedience - Physostegia virginiana


Family: Lamiaceae - Mint family Genus Common Name: Lionsheart Native Status: NativeDicot Perennial Herb
Physostegia virginiana - Obedient Plant, False Dragonhead, Obedience. Physostegia virginiana is found in moist sunny areas in much of the eastern and central United States, as well as eastern Canada. It is protected in Rhode Island (Special Concern) and Vermont (Threatened.)

The attractive blossoms last well when cut. They have been used in flower arrangements and stay in position when moved, resulting in the Obedient Plant common name. They bloom in mid to late summer.

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

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Physostegia virginiana

Distribution of Physostegia virginiana 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 Nov 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Heintooga Ridge Road (Blue Ridge Parkway spur), Haywood County, NC Date: 2011-August-01Photographer: Cindy Williamson
Nikon D40
The blossom is pink and has darker stripes and/or dots. It is 2-lipped. The lower lip has three lobes; the larger central lobe usually has dark pink spots. The purple anthers are visible near the upper lip, and the pistil may appear to hang down from the upper lip, looking to me something like a snake’s tongue.
Physostegia virginiana

Site: Heintooga Ridge Road (Blue Ridge Parkway spur), Haywood County, NC Date: 2011-August-01Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Bumblebees are the most common pollinators of Physostegia virginiana, using the central lobe of the lower lip as a landing pad.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Physostegia virginiana

Site: Heintooga Ridge Road (Blue Ridge Parkway spur), Haywood County, NC Date: 2011-August-01Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Obedient Plant is up to 4 feet tall and usually unbranched except occasionally near the inflorescence. Each branch will terminate in an inflorescence.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Physostegia virginiana

Site: Heintooga Ridge Road (Blue Ridge Parkway spur), Haywood County, NC Date: 2011-August-01Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The leaves are opposing, sessile, lanceolate, and toothed. They can be up to 5 inches long, reduced in size as they approach the inflorescence. The stem is four-sided (roughly square in cross section,) as is typical of members of the mint family.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Physostegia virginiana

Site: Heintooga Ridge Road (Blue Ridge Parkway spur), Haywood County, NC Date: 2011-August-01Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The “Obedient Plant” moniker doesn’t apply to the plant in cultivated gardens - it can be an aggressive colonizer. This photo, however, is of a natural colony in (or just outside) the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Physostegia virginiana

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