Royle's Lousewort
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Royle's Lousewort
ative Photo: Thingnam Girija
Common name: Royle's Lousewort
Botanical name: Pedicularis roylei    Family: Orobanchaceae (Broomrape family)

Royle's Lousewort is a perennial herb, 7-15 cm tall, drying black, velvety throughout. The common name lousewort, applied to Pedicularis species, derives from an old belief that these plants, when ingested, were responsible for lice infestations in stock. Flowers are purple-red, 1.7-1.9 cm; tube decurved basally, 1-1.1 cm, expanded above. Upper lip is slightly falcate, 5-8 mm, rounded in front, margin entire. Lower lip is 8-9 mm, hairless. Flowers are borne in racemes, up to 6 cm, usually interrupted at the base. Axis is densely hairy. Bracts are leaflike, proximal ones slightly longer than flowers. Flower-stalk is 2 mm long. Sepal tube is bell-shaped, 8-9 mm, densely white or deep purple hairy, sepals 5, unequal, ovate-oblong, about 1/3 as long as sepal tube, toothed or cut. Roots are fleshy, up to 4-8 mm in diameter. Stems are one to several, erect or outer ones ascending, with lines of white hairs. Leaves are in whorls of 3 or 4. Basal leaves are dense-clumpy and persistent, stalk up to 3-6 cm. Stem leaves are on short stalks, barely 2-2.5 cm. Leaf blade is lanceshaped-oblong to ovate-oblong, 2.5-4 cm, pinnately cut into 7-12 pairs of segments, lanceshaped to oblong, incised-toothed. Capsule ovoid-lanceolate, about 1.2 cm, short tipped. Seeds 1.2-1.5 mm. Royle's Lousewort is found in moist alpine meadows, among small Rhododendron, in the Himalayas, at altitudes of 3400-5500 m. Flowering: July-August.

Identification credit: Nongthombam Ullysess
Photographed in Yumthang Valley, Sikkim.
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