Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Physostegia virginiana

Fall obedient plant, False dragonhead, Virginia lions-heart

Lamiaceae (Mint Family)

Physostegia virginiana (Fall obedient plant)
Cressler, Alan
4 ft. stems which frequently grow in clumps and bear long, lanceolate leaves and a 4-6 in., terminal spikes of pink to lavender, tubular flowers. Opposite, pinkish flowers in a spike-like cluster along upper part of a square stem. The perennialís long-lasting flowers have five triangular lobes, two forming an upper lip and three forming a lower lip.

This attractive plant is snapdragon-like, but its square stem is typical of the mint family. If the flowers are bent, they tend to stay in the new position for a while, hence the common name Obedient Plant. Several garden forms occasionally escape to the wild. Flowers can be swivelled into new positions where they stay obediently. (Ontario Native Plants 2002)

Image Gallery:

15 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov


USA: AL , AR , CT , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , IA , KS , KY , LA , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , MS , MO , MT , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NY , NC , ND , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VT , VA , WV , WI , DC
Canada: MB , NB , ON , QC
Native Distribution: Que. to MN & e. SD, s. to FL, TX, and Coahuila in northern Mexico; reported in MT
Native Habitat: River banks; wet thickets; prairies, River banks, swamps, and low grounds in East and North Central Texas. Sand, clay, limestone; poor drainage okay.

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Moist, humus-rich soils.
Conditions Comments: Obedient plant receives its name from the characteristic fact that if you manipulate an individual flower back and forth on its axis, it will stay in position you place it. It is wonderfully adaptable, tolerating both drought and poor drainage. Spreads aggressively by stolons, but is easy to pull out and keep in check. Obedient plant is a good nectar source for butterflies. This perennial is easy to establish and maintain. It can become aggressive but the shallow roots are easy to pull out.


Use Wildlife: Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Hummingbirds
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: High

Last Update: 2015-12-14