WATER FIGWORT

WATER BETONY

Scrophularia auriculata

(Formerly: Scrophularia aquatica)
Figwort Family [Scrophulariaceae]

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8bicolour
 
flower
flower8brown
 
flower
flower8red
 
inner
inner8cream
 
morph
morph8zygo
 
petals
petalsZ5
 
type
typeZspiked
(lose)
stem
stem8square
 
stem
stem8ribbed
 
smell
smell8faint
faint
toxicity
toxicityZmedium
 

9th June 2009, Blackleach resr, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Bolt upright


13th Aug 2007, Staveley, Chesterfield Canal. Photo: © RWD
Or straggly. Most often found on the edge of freshwater; lakes, canals, reservoirs, rivers, streams.


9th July 2015, Rugeley, T&M canal. Photo: © RWD
The tallest one I ever did see. According to the books, Water Figwort grows to 1.5m high, but this one was about 2m or even more high!


3rd July 2015, MB&B canal aqueduct, Nob End, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are opposite (check the shadows).


16th July 2009, Blackleach resr, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Flowering spike long, but sparse (widely spaced). These flowers have not yet opened. [Leaves at the bottom belong to differing plants]


3rd July 2015, MB&B canal aqueduct, Nob End, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
A well-branched specimen. Leaves opposite.


3rd July 2015, MB&B canal aqueduct, Nob End, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The flowers are orange/red - a much brighter colour than the greenish to purplish-brown of Common Figwort


Midsummers Day 2006, on a canal boat holiday, Midlands. Photo: © RWD
Leaves opposite.


13th Aug 2007, Staveley, Chesterfield Canal. Photo: © RWD
Most of the flowers here are changing to fruit, which has a long single style still attached at the slightly pointed tip.


3rd July 2015, MB&B canal aqueduct, Nob End, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Flowers at the top changing to fruit. Two lower flowers still flowering.


3rd July 2015, MB&B canal aqueduct, Nob End, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Flowers changing to fruit.


Midsummers Day 2006, on a canal boat holiday, Midlands. Photo: © RWD
Flowers from the rear. Sepals are rounded and with a 0.5mm - 1mm wide pale border.


3rd July 2015, MB&B canal aqueduct, Nob End, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Full frontal. The flower has 5 petals: two largest at the top like a baseball cap hood, two shorter side shields and the bottom one shorter still. The 'paddle' shaped thing just below the two top petals is a fifth and sterile stamen called a staminode. There are 4 fertile stamens below them nearest the lower lip.


3rd July 2015, MB&B canal aqueduct, Nob End, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The darker, maroon coloured staminode on Water Figwort is rounded at the apex, here disc-shaped


3rd July 2015, MB&B canal aqueduct, Nob End, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Four fertile stamens huddled in a rectange in the lower half of the flower. A single style with discoidal stigma drapes over the lower lip. The plant has a medium-density of very short hairs with black glands at the tip. As-yet unopened flower buds surround the open flower. The square stems have wings at the corners.


3rd July 2015, MB&B canal aqueduct, Nob End, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The 4 fertile stamens have cream-coloured pollen.


16th July 2009, Blackleach resr, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Turning to fruit. The sepals still have 0.5mm - 1mm wide paler margins.


16th July 2009, Blackleach resr, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Doing the twist like it did last Summer. Not all are twisted like this, this is the first one your Author has seen, but it allows to see a few of the square edges with their wings at once .


9th June 2009, Blackleach resr, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Beneath each flower branch is a linear bract.


9th June 2009, Blackleach resr, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
This shows the flanges or ribs on each corner.


3rd July 2015, MB&B canal aqueduct, Nob End, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
An untwisted stem. They are square with ribs on each corner. Not all have furrows / flutes like does this specimen. Glandular hairs like tiny black-headed pins. Water Figwort is usually hairless.


3rd July 2015, MB&B canal aqueduct, Nob End, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
It Feels Groovie. This specimen strongly winged on the corners.


3rd July 2015, MB&B canal aqueduct, Nob End, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
All the hairs on Water Figwort are short and glandular, with a black bobbly gland on the ends. But the plants are usually hairless. The stems are shaped in cross-section more like steel girders - i.e. the wings are parallel to each other (and not at right-angles in a '×' as might at first be assumed on a square stem).


28th Jan 2007, Brighstone, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
The leaves vary in shape, either oval, elongated cardioid, all with either a rounded or an acute tip and with or without an extra opposite pair of smaller leaflets on the stalk.


13th Aug 2007, Staveley, Chesterfield Canal. Photo: © RWD
Not all leaves have a pair of opposite leaflets near the base of the larger leaf. This specimen has at least some leaves with opposite pairs of smaller leaflets on the stalk.


8th Aug 2013, Langsett, Yorkshire. Photo: © RWD
This specimen is suffering because it chose not to grow beside water, but in a place which can be rather dry in summer.


13th Aug 2007, Staveley, Chesterfield Canal. Photo: © RWD
The leaves have winged stalks.


2nd April 2015, Cromford Canal, nr Whatstandwell, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Leaves with (crenate) rounded teeth, but they can also be bluntly toothed.


3rd July 2015, MB&B canal aqueduct, Nob End, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
This specimen is recursive; it has leaves which have a smaller pair of leaflets, which have a smaller pair of leaflets, which have a smaller pair of leaflets... (possibly iterating beyond the resolution of the photogragraph).


Not to be semantically confused with : Fig (Ficus carica), Hottentot-Fig (Carpobrotus edulis), Angular Sea-Fig (Carpobrotus glaucescens) or Fig-leaved Goosefoot (Chenopodium ficifolium [plants with similar names belonging to differing families].

Water Figwort grows mainly in the UK south of the border with Scotland, but also avoiding much of Wales apart from South Wales, and less common in Lancashire and seemingly avoiding much of Cumbria. Present also In Ireland but mostly in the west and south. It is about half as common as Common Figwort (Scrophularia nodosa) (which grows over almost all of the UK apart from the North and North-East of Scotland).

Easily mistaken for : Green Figwort (Scrophularia umbrosa) - see below for differences

Not related to: Cape Figwort (Phygelius capensis).

Water Figwort is distinguished from Common Figwort (Scrophularia nodosa) by the following features:

  • The leaves have crenate (rounded) teeth or blunt sawtooth teeth (as opposed to serrate (pointed and forwardly-directed sawtooth teeth for Common Figwort)
  • The leaved have winged petioles (stalks) - (unwinged on Common Figwort)
  • The leaves often (but not always) have an opposite pair of smaller leaves near the base of the main leaf - (leaflets always absent on Common Figwort)
  • The leaf stalks are winged - (un-winged on Common Figwort)
  • Sepals are rounded with a pale 0.5-1mm border - (oval, blunt and all-green on Common Figwort)
  • The infertile staminode is rounded at the apex - (it can be obovate, truncate or notched in the centre on Common Figwort)
  • The square stems have pronounced wings along each corner - (only very slightly winged on Common Figwort)
  • It smells only slightly foetid - (whereas Common Figwort smells foetid)


But Water Figwort is much more like the far less common Green Figwort (Scrophularia umbrosa) but Green Figwort differs from Water Figwort by the following features:

  • The flower spike possesses numerous small leafy bracts beneath the branches.
  • The stems have broader wings, especially nearer the bottom.
  • The leaves have more teeth and the teeth are smaller.
  • The leaf teeth are slightly pointed, never crenate.
  • The staminode (the sterile 'anther' nestling just beneath the top petals) is wider than it is long with two lobes. It varies in shape, some being obovate, others truncate ('snipped' short at the front) or emarginate (with a notch in the centre at the front).
  • Although the petioles (stalks) of the leaves are all winged (just as those of Water Figwort are) they do not possess a smaller and opposite pair of leaflets.

SECONDARY METABOLITES

The colour code for the coloured moieties on this page are:
Blue for glycoside moieties
Red for PhenylPropanoids groups
Green for the Iridoid skeleton
Purple for the Saponin moiety.

All these compounds contribute to the toxicity of Water Figwort, and uses may be found for some of them in medicine.

A PHENYL PROPANOID


Varbascoside is a PhenylPropanoid Glycoside.


TWO IRIDOID GLYCOSIDES


ScroPolioside is an Iridoid Glycoside exhibiting wound-healing powers, anti-inflammatory activity and is also hepatoprotective. The only difference between ScroPolioside and ScroValentinoside is that the red-colured PhenylPropanoid moiety has swapped places with an Acetoxy moiety.


ScroValentinoside is a newly discovered Iridoid Glycoside.


TWO TRIETERPENOID SAPONINS


Verbascosaponin is an oleane-type Triterpenoid Saponin. Readers might spot the thre differences between these two saponins: the addition of an -O- bond, the consequent moving of a double bond and the breaking of one upright of the bridge (shown in bold): all on the Saponin (purple part) of the molecule.


VerbascoSaponin A is another oleane-type triterpenoid saponin, this one is also found in Great Mullein.


  Scrophularia auriculata  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Scrophulariaceae  

Distribution
 family8Figwort family8Scrophulariaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Scrophularia
Scrophularia
(Figworts)

WATER FIGWORT

WATER BETONY

Scrophularia auriculata

(Formerly: Scrophularia aquatica)
Figwort Family [Scrophulariaceae]