Perennial herb 0.3 - 1 m tall Stem: erect, unbranched or few-branched. Leaves: opposite, bright green, 6 - 15 cm long, egg-shaped and tapering to a slender tip, toothed, sparsely hairy. The leafstalks reach 5 cm long on the lower leaves, but become increasingly shorter and finally stalkless near the top of the plant. Inflorescence: terminal or in the upper leaf axils, spike-like, slender, elongated. Flowers: opposite and perpendicular to stalk, subtended by three small awl-shaped bracts, having a two-lipped calyx with three awl-shaped upper lobes about as long as the tube and two short broad-triangular lower lobes. The corolla is pale purple to white, 6 - 8 mm across, with a straight upper lip that is shallowly notched at the tip and a much longer, spreading, three-lobed lower lip. Fruit: a one-seeded, oblong, dry achene surrounded by the persistent calyx. The calyx is strongly ribbed and reflexed, with the upper lobes hardened and hooked at the tip.
Similar species: Phryma leptostachya is unique in our flora and is easily identified by its opposite flowers and fruit. Additionally, the fruit is a single elongated achene surrounded by a strongly reflexed calyx.
Flowering: late June to early September
Habitat and ecology: Common in woods, usually where there has been a disturbance.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Etymology: The derivation of Phryma is unknown. Leptostachya means slender-spiked.
Erect, 5-10 dm, simple or with a few divergent branches; lower petioles to 5 cm, the upper shorter or the uppermost lvs sessile; lvs ovate, 6-15 cm; fls opposite and horizontal, pale purple to white, 6-8 mm, each subtended by 3 small subulate bracts; cal to 1 cm in fr; 2n=28. Moist woods; Que. to Man., s. to Fla. and Tex.; e. Asia. June-Aug.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.