Scrophularia marilandica (Late Figwort/Carpenter's Square)
Full view of Scrophularia marilandica

Zone: 4 to 8

Soil: Sand to loam

Light: Part sun to light shade

Bloom colour: Green on the outside

Bloom period: 8 weeks from mid-summer

Height: Up to 72 inches

Moisture: medium

Attracts: Bees, wasps

Notes: Late Figwort is native to Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec as well as the Eastern half of the United States. It is found in dry woods and thickets. The leaves are coarse and the flowers are green on the outside while being reddish on the inside. The flower has 5 stamens, one of which sits at the top of the flower and is infertile. The other stamens, which are yellow and fertile are located with the stigma on the lower side of the flower. It is quite an upright plant and will easily fit in between other tall shade plants.

In terms of its looks, Late figwort is rather uninteresting, but it is worth finding room for this plant in a shady wildlife garden because there are not too many plants that offer the same nectar rewards over such a large part of the growing season. Place it behind other plants; or mix it in with Purple Joe Pye Weed, which is similar in height; or just find a less prominent part of the garden to grow it.

Its attractiveness to insects has been somewhat exaggerated on the internet as plants in the shade cannot compete for pollinators with plants in sunshine. However, you could plant Late Figwort on the north side of a fence. The soil will remain cool, but the flower panicles will be exposed to sunshine and this will bring in a lot more pollinators. This plant gets a slow but constant stream of visits by beneficial wasps. In particular, Carpenter's square has special relationship with Bald Faced Hornets, which make up many of the visitors that pollinate this plant in the garden. You will also be able to observe numerous sweat bees and hover flies as well as some bumblebees. There have been some reports of hummingbirds visiting this plant but this remains unverified.

In well drained soils, this plant is easy to grow and it will reseed itself. You will be pulling extra plants that pop up, but the weeding is not overly burdensome. The plant tolerates dryness in shady areas, but the leaves may droop and die back if you give it too much sun and not enough moisture. To keep the foliage looking good, you may have to water in periods of drought. Also, avoid using a heavy mulch on this plant.


This plant is nearly impossible to find in a regular plant nursery. You will have to contact a local native plant nursery to see if they have it.

Scrophularia marilandica - Carpenter's square
Scrophularia marilandica wth Polistes fuscatus
Scrophularia marilandica wth Polistes fuscatus
Flower of scrophularia
Flower of Scrophularia marilandica
Scrophularia with Eumenes
A potter wasp obtaining nectar
Sweat bee on Scrophularia marilandica
Carpenter's square is visited by sweat bees
Bald faced hornet feeding flowers of Scrophularia marilandica
Bald faced hornets love this plant.