obedient plant, aka obedience, false dragonhead
Another find from my exploration of the lower Gorge by kayak. I seem to have missed peak bloom, as there could be up to two dozen blossoms per foot-long spike.
Obedient plant is a favorite of native plant gardeners, as it grows vigorously in good soil and sun, and is deer resistant. Its native range is across most of the US and Canada but for most of the West. It’s listed as special concern in Rhode Island, and is threatened in Vermont.
About a dozen species of Physostegia grow in the continental US and Canada; of these, P. virginiana is by far the most widespread, and the only one found in the mid-Atlantic Piedmont.
These plants were growing right atop the rock outcrops in the Potomac near Fletcher’s Cove, where I’d expect there is little soil that’s frequently flooded in the spring when the river level is higher.
About those common names… supposedly, you can twist each flower into a different position and it will stay put, at least for awhile. How do people come up with stuff like that?