Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Virginia Stickseed, ETC.)

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 7-19-21, #815-2.

Beggar’s Lice, Beggarslice, Stickseed, Virginia Stickseed, Sticktight, Wild Comfrey

Hackelia virginiana

ha-KEEL-ee-uh  vir-jin-ee-AN-uh

Synonyms of Hackelia virginiana (7) (Updated on 2-2-22 from Plants of the World Online): Cynoglossum morisonii A.DC., Echinospermum virginianum (L.) Lehm., Echinospermum virginicum Lehm., Lappula virginiana (L.) Greene, Myosotis virginiana L., Pulmonaria elliptica Raf., Rochelia virginica Roem. & Schult.

Hackelia virginiana (L.) I.M.Johnst. is the correct and accepted scientific name for this species of Hackelia. It was named and described as such by Ivan Murray Johnston in Contributions from the Gray Herbarium of Harvard University in 1923. It was first described as Myosotis virginiana by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.

The genus, Hackelia Opiz, was named and described as such by Philipp (Filip) Opiz in Oekonomisch-technische Flora Böhmen in 1839. The genus was named in honor of the Czech botanist Josef Hackel (1783-1869). 

As of 2-2-22 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 54 species in the Hackelia genus. It is a member of the plant family Boraginaceae with 155 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made by POWO.

Distribution map of Hackelia virginiana from Plants of the World Online. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; http://www.plantsoftheworldonline.org/. Retrieved on July 22, 2021.

The above distribution map for Hackelia virginiana is from Plants of the World Online. The map on the USDA Plants Database for North America (above Mexico) is similar and also includes Illinois. The species is present in Illinois but POWO gets their data for their maps from Flora of North America. The plant family Boraginaceae has not been included on FNA yet but once it is, POWO will update their maps. 

The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations. The maps on iNaturalist are continually updated as members post new observations.

THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND TO HELP WITH A BETTER POSITIVE ID.

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 4-15-20, #688-1.

I found a rosette of leaves in a wooded area north of the chicken house in April 2020 I didn’t recognize. I watched it off and on, waiting for flowers, but every time I looked at it it was just growing taller. I went ahead and posted photos without flowers on iNaturalist and their suggestion was Hackelia virginiana. I checked the Missouri Plants website and it sure seemed possible. I found a few plants along the south hayfield in 2021 and was able to positively ID the species as Hackelia virginiana for sure.

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 5-3-20, #695-16.

Hackelia virginiana is a biennial species that is found throughout Missouri and it has been identified from the central part of North America eastward. Being a biennial, it produces a rosette of leaves its first season and flowers the second. The plant produces seeds with barbed bristles that stick to clothes, sometimes dragging the whole plant out of the ground. That is due to their short taproots and strong stems allowing them to pulled up easily.

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 5-10-20, #697-35.

This species can be found in partially shaded areas in a wide variety of soil types and conditions. It seems to be found mostly in deciduous woodlands, bottomland forests, along streambanks, edges of pastures, etc. as long as there is a little shade.

Plants flower from June through September their second year.

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 5-10-20, #697-36.

The above photo shows prominent veins on the underside of the leaves.

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 5-10-20, #697-37.

Plants grow a central stem in the center of a rosette of basal leaves. The stems have an abundance of short, fine hairs that (usually) point downward up to the midpoint where side branches start growing (second year). From there, the hairs (usually) point upward (antrorse) or they are spreading.

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 5-23-20, #703-7.

 

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 5-23-20, #703-8.

Basal and lower stem leaves grow up to 6” long x 3 1/2” wide and are described as being elliptic or ovate in shape and have long petioles (leaf stems), the basal leaves absent or dying when the plants start to flower. The lower and upper leaves grow in an alternate pattern along the stems, getting progressively narrower toward the top of the stems. Lower leaves have long petioles (leaf stems), while upper leaves are usually sessile (no petioles). Stem leaves have short, winged petioles where side branches emerge from the leaf axil. The upper leaf surface is kid of rough, with fine pustular-based hairs (emerging from blister-like swellings).

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 5-23-20, #703-9.

Lower leaf surfaces can have somewhat longer hairs, especially along the veins.

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 5-23-20, #703-10.

Long petioles with adaxial grooves, kind of like a gutter.

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 5-23-20, #703-11.

The above photo showing hairs on lower stems facing downward (well, sort of).

<<<<2021>>>>

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 7-17-21, #813-25.

Then, in 2021, I took photos of plants along the south side of the south hayfield. The area had grown up in blackberry briars, Japanese Honeysuckle, and small trees over many years. It was mowed off in the fall of 2020 which allowed many wildflowers I hadn’t identified to grow in 2021. Several of those plants turned out to be Hackelia virginiana. I checked north of the chicken house where I first spotted the suggested species, and sure enough, they were in full swing…

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 7-17-21, #813-26.

The plants in the south hayfield get more sun than those north of the chicken house which are growing in a woody area. The sun makes their leaves take on a reddish hue…

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 7-17-21, #813-27.

The above photo shows a leaf with short winged petioles and a side branch growing above the leaf petiole (adaxial).

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 7-17-21, #813-28.

Some of the leaves are kind of wrinkly in appearance…

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 7-17-21, #813-29.

Ribbed hairy stems… Showing the hairs are spreading rather than pointing downward (retrorse) or upward (antrorse).

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 7-17-21, #813-30.

There is nothing simple when describing this species… The branches terminate (end with) paired or alternate (scorpioid) racemes of flowers. 

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 7-17-21, #813-31.

Racemes (flowering stem) get longer as the flowers start to open from the bottom to the tip. You can also see a few “leafy bracts” along the raceme…

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 7-17-21, #813-32.

The calyces curve backward when dry…

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 7-17-21, #813-33.

The short version is… The flowers have 5-lobed calyces surrounding a trumpet-shaped corolla tube with five petals. The flowers have short stems (pedicels) giving them a dangly appearance. The above photo shows how the calyces surround the flowers and ovaries once the flowers have ran their course.

Hopefully, I can get close-ups of the flowers in 2022 so you can see the weird “crests” at the base of the corolla tubes…

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 7-17-21, #813-34.

The globose 4-lobed ovaries turn into schizocarps. 🙂 OK, lets make it simple… The fruits are 4-lobed which divide into 4 nutlets when ripe. The fruit is covered with hooked bristles allowing them to cling to clothing or passing pedestrians and the fur of mammals, such as your dog, deer, bears, raccoons, etc. when dry. You get the picture… 

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 7-17-21, #813-35.

Another photo of the prominent veins on the undersides of a leaf.

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 7-17-21, #813-36.

 

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC) on 7-19-21, #815-2.

Once I left the south hayfield, I went to the wooded area north of the chicken house where I found several Hackelia virginiana

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 7-19-21, #815-3.

The above photo shows the leaves growing in an alternate pattern along the stem.

SO, in 2022, the goal is to take close-ups of the flowers, fruit, and seeds…

I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. My farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and identified over 200 species of wildflowers (most have pages listed on the right side of the page). I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a few horticulturalists I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.

I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at thebelmontrooster@yahoo.com. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky.

FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
INTERNATIONAL PLANT NAMES INDEX (GENUS/SPECIES)
TROPICOS (GENUS/SPECIES)
WORLD FLORA ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
WIKIPEDIA (GENUS/SPECIES)
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
DAVE’S GARDEN
MISSOURI PLANTS
MSU-MIDWEST WEEDS AND WILDFLOWERS
iNATURALIST
WILDFLOWER SEARCH
ILLINOIS WILDFLOWERS
MINNESOTA WILDFLOWERS
KANSAS WILDFLOWERS AND GRASSES
GO BOTANY
LADY BIRD JOHNSON WILDFLOWER CENTER
FRIENDS OF THE WILDFLOWER GARDEN
MARYLAND BIODIVERSITY PROJECT

NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates. Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂