When I saw Late Figwort (Scrophularia marilandica) listed in one of my favorite native-plant catalogs, I was immediately intrigued.
- Unusually tall – check. (5’+)
- Likely to baffle neighbors – check.
- Shade tolerant – check.
- Pollinator (especially hummingbird!) magnet – check.
So I planted a small clump near our Back Garden patio. I imagined lolling outdoors and watching hummingbirds and butterflies competing for access to the Late Figwort blooms.
Unfortunately, living with Late Figwort has been a disappointment. Yes, the plant is tall, but it is not especially handsome. The flowers look mostly like little green berries. At any given time, only a few are in bloom. The handful that are in bloom look sort of like they are sticking their tongues out at you.
But for me, it was on the subject of attracting pollinators where Late Figwort faced its real downfall. Oh, there were pollinators. Once or twice there might have been hummingbirds. However, the overwhelming majority of pollinators drawn to Late Figwort in my garden were Bald Faced Hornets.
Now, I have no desire to deny Bald Faced Hornets their place in the ecosystem, but I would prefer that their place in the ecosystem not include my patio. They are stinging insects and a bit on the aggressive side, especially when human food is around – rather like Yellow Jackets, in my experience.
So late one night, while the Bald Faced Hornets are mostly at rest, I cut our Late Figworts to the ground.
Let me be clear – I don’t wish to discourage anyone from utilizing native plants. However, I would argue that Late Figwort is perhaps not the best choice for most home gardeners.
After our experience with Late Figwort at home, I started noticing it with some frequency at a nearby nature preserve. May God bless and keep it – but not in my garden.