Baikal Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis)
Baikal Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis)
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Baikal Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis)

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Baikal and American skullcap varieties are not interchangeable and are used to treat different conditions.

Baikal or Chinese skullcap resembles American skullcap but its blue or purple flowers are borne on single stems and it is a shorter plant that is less than 2 feet high. It is the root of Baikal skullcap that is used medicinally.

Baikal Skullcap is a prized Chinese herb known as Huang-qin. It is used for hypertension, headaches, high blood pressure, respiratory infections, liver problems, dysentery and fevers. It recent years, it has become especially well known for its broad-spectrum antiviral properties. It is considered one of 50 fundamental herbs in Chinese medicine.

Both skullcaps should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Both native and Chinese skullcap prefer moist, fertile but well-drained soil in partial shade to full sun. Skullcap seeds germinate at a high rate naturally but do even better with a short period of stratification. Lightly tamp seeds into soil in flats and transplant after all danger of frost is over. Once established, skullcaps are hardy in most North American locations.

Skullcap is easy to grow but does not transplant well. To increase plantings, divide roots carefully or take cuttings in early spring.

The deep blue or purple flowers of both skullcaps make them very attractive garden additions.