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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

virginian SKULLCAP

Other Common Names Include:

Blue skullcap, mad-dog skullcap, hoodwort

Latin Name: Scutellaria lateriflora

Plant Family: Lamiaceae

Close Relatives: Mint, basil, oregano, thyme

Uses and Markets: Medicinal: (e.g. whole plant is used as an antispasmodic, treatment of disorders of the nervous system)

Virginian skullcap
Production Life Cycle in Ontario

Perennial (short-lived)

Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

Virginian skullcap should not be confused with the separate species Baikal skullcap.

Propagation method

Most commonly by transplants from seeds or by division; less commonly by direct seeding. Seeds require both stratification (cold period) and light to germinate.

Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates


Field Seeding Date:


Field Transplanting Dates


In-row spacing

30-40 cm

Between row spacing

50-90 cm

Optimal Soil temperature at planting



No current Ontario fertility recommendations exist. Research and recommendations from outside Ontario do not necessarily apply to Ontario growing conditions. The nitrogen requirements of this crop have not been determined. Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

Moist, well-drained soils; sandy loam to clay soils.

Soil pH


Special requirements for growth habit


Optimal Temperature Range


Temperature sensitivity

Freeze tolerant

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation required under normal Ontario conditions.

Days to harvest

3 months

Specialized equipment


Harvest Scheduling

Single harvest in the first year, 2 harvests per year thereafter.

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Machine harvest (forage harvester).

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades. Quality is determined by the market.

Additional Harvest Notes
Harvest whole tops at the beginning of flowering in mid-summer, lightly the first year. Two harvests per year are possible in subsequent years.

Post harvest

Special handling/curing
Dry at 38°C, turning often to avoid the development of mould.

Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): Store dried product at low humidity to prolong shelf-life.

Temperature (°C): Low temperatures will prolong shelf-life.

Duration: Quality degrades over time but no storage life has been established.

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)

Insects and Invertebrates: None

Diseases: Powdery mildew

Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).

Insects and Invertebrates: None

Diseases: Leaf spots (e.g. Cercospora, Septoria, Phyllosticta), Botrytis blight, crown and root rots (e.g. Rhizoctonia, Mycosphaera)

*Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop in other regions. 


To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario: powdery mildew. This crop is not in a crop group. There are no pest control products registered for this crop in Canada. For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section.  Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product.  For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist.

Powdery mildew on Virginian skullcap
Additional Notes

Research at the University of Guelph has studied the phytochemistry, genomics and antioxidant potential of this crop.

Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile
  1. Cole, I.B., Cao, J., Alan, A.R., Saxena, P.K. and  S.J. Murch. 2008. Comparisons of Scutellaria baicalensis, Scutellaria lateriflora and Scutellaria racemosa: Genome size, antioxidant potential and phytochemistry. Planta Medica 74:474-481.
  2. Westerveld, S., Elford, E., Filotas, M. and J. Todd. 2010-present. OMAFRA herb demonstration garden. OMAFRA Simcoe Resource Centre, unpublished.
  1. Bown, D. 1995. The Royal Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Herbs and There Uses. BCA, Toronto.
  2. Greenfield, J. and J.M. Davis. 2004. Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora L.). Medicinal Herb Production Guides, NC State University.
  3. Hartung, T. 2000. Growing 101 herbs that heal. Storey Publishing, North Adams, Massachusetts.
  4. Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture. 2010. Skullcap. Government of Saskatchewan.