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With the potential to grow up to 7 feet, Culver’s root is a tall perennial with dense clusters of white flowers that appear from midsummer to early fall. It works well in native gardens, pollinator gardens, rain gardens, cut-flower gardens, beds, borders, or naturalized areas. This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region and current research.

  • Family (English) Figwort
  • Family (botanic) Scrophulariaceae
  • Tree or plant type Perennial
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil, Wet soil
  • Tolerances Occasional flooding
  • Season of interest midsummer, late summer, early fall
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Wildlife Insect pollinators

Size and method of spreading:

At maturity, Culver’s root is 4 to 7 feet tall and 2 to 4 feet wide. It spreads by producing offsets through underground stem structures (rhizomes) and by self-seeding. 

Native geographic location and habitat: (include C-value if appropriate)

Culver’s root has a native range that includes the Central and Eastern United States. C Value: 8.

Attracts birds or pollinators: 

Culver’s root attracts various species of bees, butterflies, flies, moths, and wasps. 

Leaf description:

Culver’s root leaves whorl around the stem in groups of three to seven. The leaves are long and narrow (lanceolate), growing up to 6 inches long and 1 ½ inches wide. They have sharp teeth along the edges (serrate margins) and a prominent midvein. They attach directly to the stem (sessile) or have a short stalk (petiole). 

Flower description:

Culver’s root produces upright, densely packed spikes of tiny, tubular, white flowers. These clusters are up to 10 inches long and mature upward from the bottom. The individual flowers are about one-quarter-inch long. The petallike, tubular structure (corolla) is divided into four lobes for the upper third of its length. Two yellow or reddish-brown pollen-bearing structures (stamens) protrude from the corolla. Surrounding the base of the corolla is a leaflike, tubular structure (calyx) that is deeply divided into five sharply pointed lobes. 

Fruit description:

Within the persistent calyx, Culver’s root produces ovoid or ellipsoid fruit that splits into four to release seeds when mature (capsules). 

Plant Care:

If grown in shade, Culver’s root may require staking. Deadheading can encourage additional blooming. 

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Culver’s root is not susceptible to major pests and diseases.


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