These photographs were originally slated to appear in August when the images were made, but after attempting to verify the identification of the plants, I discovered they weren’t the species suggested by the label. The labeling error has since been corrected and I’ve updated the names on the previous photographs I’ve taken.
Scutellaria baicalensis is known as Baikal skullcap or Chinese skullcap, reflecting on its east Asian native range: Korea, China, Mongolia, Sibera, and the far east of Russia. It is one of the fifty fundamental herbs of Chinese herbology, a fact also noted by the Plants for a Future database. The New York University Medical Center reports on the current state of Baikal skullcap flavonoid extracts in Western medicine: “Highly preliminary evidence suggest that baicalin can enhance the activity of antibiotics against antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria. Other highly preliminary evidence suggests that baicalin, wogonin, and baicalein may have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, liver-protective, anti-anxiety, and antihypertensive effects. However, for none of these uses does the evidence approach the level necessary to truly establish a treatment as effective”.
Due to the potential medicinal uses, discussion papers have been made about the possibility of this and other members of the genus Scutellaria becoming a medicinal crop. A similar evaluation of the use of skullcap has been published by the Saskatchewan Crop Development Branch.
Whatever the medicinal uses and crop potentials, I find myself enjoying it for its ornamental virtues: long-lasting purple flowers on up-curved stems with bright-green foliage. It grows in a tidy clump in the Alpine Garden, flowering late in the summer.