Deer in Spring Landscape

Buttercup Scorpion-weed

Buttercup Scorpion-weed Photo by Richard H. Wiegand
Buttercup Scorpion-weed
(Phacelia covillei)
Photograph by Richard H. Wiegand

Also called Coville's Phacelia, this globally rare plant occurs only in the mid-Atlantic region, from Maryland south to North Carolina and west to West Virginia, including Virginia and the District of Columbia.  Maryland lists this plant as State Endangered.

Buttercup Scorpion-weed alternative view of flower, Photo by Richard H. WiegandThe Buttercup Scorpion-weed only occurs in floodplains and adjacent forests.  It may occur locally in large numbers but is threatened by encroachment of non-native plant species.  This small blue flower appears in April and May, looking like a tubular bell.  Its leaves are lobed, looking similar to a buttercup's.

The chief threat to this species is competition from non-native, or exotic, species. Many exotic plant species are "escapees" from cultivation.  One characteristic of some exotic species is their level of invasiveness.  Some species will reproduce at high rates and, lacking any natural control, overrun a natural area.  Some better known invasive plants include: Phragmites, Japanese honeysuckle, purple loosestrife, English ivy, kudzu, and garlic mustard.  Some exotic plants were brought here by early European settlers as sources of food or as a reminder of home; others arrived as landscaping plants.  Another trait of some exotic plants is their negative impact on the environment and other public welfare priorities.

Invasive plants are best controlled before they even get a roothold here.  Select native plants for home landscaping.  Learn to identify invasive plants when you enter a natural area.  When hiking, make sure you brush off any plant or seed material from your clothes before transporting it to or from a natural area. And check out our Invasive and Exotic Species Program for more tips on conserving our State's biodiversity, including the Buttercup Scorpion-weed.

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