Pedicularis furbishiae

Common Names:
Furbish lousewort, Furbish's wood betony
S. Wats.
Growth Habit:
CPC Number:
Profile Contributors:
Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
Fully Sponsored

Reference Links

ITIS - Tropicos - USDA Plants - Fish & WildLife

Participating Institutions

The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
New England Wild Flower Society

The conservation of Pedicularis furbishiae is fully sponsored.
Elizabeth J. Farnsworth contributed to this Plant Profile.


Pedicularis furbishiae is a narrow endemic, found only along 225 km of the pristine St. John River system of Maine and adjacent New Brunswick. Kate Furbish, botanist and wildflower artist, discovered the plant in 1880, and it has been intensively studied ever since. One of the first plants to receive concerted conservation attention in North America in the 1970's, Pedicularis furbishiae is a poster-child for conservation biology, and an exemplary case study for understanding the complex phenomena associated with metapopulations. A string of ephemeral sub-populations (demes) establish along the river's edge and persist for a short time before ice-scouring by the wild river destroys them and hurries their seeds downstream, where the plants re-establish and begin the cycle again. The future is precarious for Pedicularis furbishiae; river dams, climatic change, increasing run-off, pollutants, recreationists, and invasive species all can impact its fragile riverine habitat. Only a highly coordinated, international strategy can protect the St. John watershed and the large-scale natural processes that shape the community of Pedicularis furbishiae and many other rare species. Ambitious efforts are underway.

Plant Description:
Pedicularis furbishiae is an herbaceous perennial. Its distinctive, deeply lobed, toothed, and hairy leaves (4 to 20 cm long) grow in a basal rosette. In late July and August, reproductive plants send up a flowering spike (scape) up to 1 m tall, with a cluster of tubular, yellow flowers 2 cm long, each subtended by a stout bract. The fruits are oval capsules with small (2mm long), gray seeds.

Distribution & Occurrence


Conservation, Ecology & Research