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Related to figwort: figwort family, Scrophularia


figwort, common name for some members of the Scrophulariaceae, a family comprising chiefly herbs and small shrubs and distributed widely over all continents. The family includes a few climbing types and some parasitic and saprophytic forms.

Common Species and Their Uses

Among its many wildflowers are several European species that have been introduced to America and become thoroughly naturalized, e.g., the mulleins (genus Verbascum), the common speedwell (Veronica officinalis), and the butter-and-eggs (Linaria vulgaris). The common mullein (V. thapsus), also called flannel plant and torches, was formerly a favorite multipurpose medicinal plant; it is still occasionally used for domestic remedies, e.g., as a tea for coughs. Its large stalks are said to have been oiled and used for funeral torches in early times. The speedwells, of which several species are native to the United States, are also called veronica, supposedly because of a resemblance of the flower to the relic (see veronica). Culver's root (V. virginica) has been used as a cathartic.

Butter-and-eggs, or yellow toadflax, has small snapdragonlike flowers of yellow and orange and is consequently known also as wild snapdragon. Among the other toadflaxes (genus Linaria) is the well-known American species, blue toadflax. Other indigenous wildflowers of the family include species of beardtongue, or pentstemon (genus Pentstemon); gerardia, or false purple foxglove (Gerardia) [for John Gerard]; painted cup, or Indian paintbrush (Castilleja); and figwort (Scrophularia). The beardtongues, herbs or shrubs, are named for the flower's single sterile stamen that is bearded at its flattened extremity. The roots of the painted cups, chiefly a Western genus, are partially parasitic on the roots of other green plants. Their true flowers are inconspicuous but are commonly enveloped by bright red flowerlike bracts. C. linariaefolia is the state flower of Wyoming. The name Scrophularia derives from the early belief that because the figworts are characterized by deep-throated flowers, they should be medicinally valuable in treating throat ailments (e.g., scrofula).

Many plants of the family are used medicinally; however, only the purple foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) of W Europe is economically important. Its leaves are the source of the drug digitalis, a powerful heart stimulant. The foxglove's tall spire of flowers, typical of many members of the family, makes it popular also as an ornamental. Each blossom, likened to the finger of a glove or to an elongated bell, points downward from the stalk. In England, where it grows wild, the plant has long been associated with fairies—as evidenced by many of its common names, e.g., fairy thimbles.

Numerous other plants of the family also have curious names derived from their unusual flower shapes—e.g., the turtle heads (Chelone) and monkey flowers (Mimulus) of North America and the little red elephants (Pedicularis groenlandica) of arctic and alpine regions. A favorite cultivated plant is the snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus), native to the Mediterranean area. Its showy blossoms, likened to a dragon's snout, display a wide range of colors in the many varieties. Other ornamentals of the family include the Kenilworth ivy (Cymbalaria muralis), introduced into North America, and the calceolaria, or slipperwort (genus Calceolaria), herbs and shrubby plants of South America valued for their profusion of pouch-shaped, often spotted blossoms.


Figworts are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Scrophulariales.
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Has powerful painkilling ability equal to cortisone. Helps inflammation and pain from arthritis, rheumatism. Alternating leaves with ragged edges. Flowers look like little open mouths. Dry and use upper part of plant topically for skin afflictions like eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, and as tea for restlessness, anxiety, irregular menses. The roots can be dried out and are a substitute for ginseng. Sweet tasting root. In China, it’s called xuan shen and is used for a multitude of afflictions. In homeopathy, it’s used for enlarged/ swollen glands, breast tumors, ear problems, hemorrhoids. Square stem.
Edible Plant Guide © 2012 Markus Rothkranz
References in periodicals archive ?
The water figwort or water betony (S auriculata) is the species most likely to be grown in gardens, particularly S a Variegata, which has lovely cream and dark green leaves and is excellent in damp, shady places.
Scrophularia marilandica L.; Eastern Figwort, Late Figwort, Carpenter's Square; Roadside; Rare; C = 5; BSUH 14779.
Scrophularia marilandica L.; Eastern or Late Figwort; Edge of woods and along Lick Creek; Infrequent; C = 5; BSUH 13501.
Scrophularia marilandica L.; Eastern or Late Figwort; Along Culmer's Run; Rare; C = 5; BSUH 11986.
In August Eupatorium rugosum (white snakeroot), Helianthus microcephalus (small wood sunflower), Pilea pumila (clearweed), Scrophularia marilandica (late figwort), Solidago caesia (blue-stemmed goldenrod), and Verbesina alternifolia (yellow ironweed) are added.
Scrophularia marilandica L.: Eastern Figwort; infrequent; along CR 500E and stream; BSUH 12433.
Scrophularia marilandica L.: Eastern Figwort; infrequent; floodplain woods, riverbanks, and successional woods; BSUH 10616, 11081.
All resurrection plants known to science are angiosperms (flowering plants) belonging principally to three botanical families: Gesneriaceae (lamiale), Myrothamnaceae (myrothamnus), and Scrophulariaceae (figworts) (Phillips, Oliver, and Bartels, "Molecular Genetics" 320).
They found that the graves were lined with flowers; they also identified sages and figworts' imprints in the mud around the bodies - the earliest proof of plants being linked with funerals.
The Cape Figworts (Phygelius) are a useful bunch of sub shrubs, ideal at the front of a sunny border.
Plant them in between the coral-coloured or milky- white blooms of Cape figworts or phygelius to see what I mean.
Shrubby species, including the figworts Scrophularia canina, S.