The site navigation utilizes arrow, enter, escape, and space bar key commands. Left and right arrows move across top level links and expand / close menus in sub levels. Up and Down arrows will open main level menus and toggle through sub tier links. Enter and space open menus and escape closes them as well. Tab will move on to the next part of the site rather than go through menu items.

The Buzz

A Plant That Does What It's Told? Obedient Plant Isn't Just a Misnomer

(Photo by Glenn P. Knoblock)

Anyone who's ever planted a garden knows plants have a mind of their own, so obedient plant may seem like an unusual, if not misleading, name for a wildflower.

In the case of this plant, though, obedience is one of its trademark traits. That's not to say it does what it's told, but its flowers do, in a way. The plant gets its curious name because you can turn and position the individual flowers and they will stay in place once moved, according to Illinois Wildflowers

Obedient plant belongs to the mint family and has the square-shaped stems that are characteristic of mints, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. In appearance, it is similar to snapdragon and dragonhead. It is actually sometimes called false dragonhead because of its resemblance to this plant. 

The plant can grow to be about 6 feet tall, but generally stands between 2 feet and 4 feet high, according to the Native Plant Society of Texas. It produces spikes of small flowers that can be as much as 10 inches long. Blooms can be pinkish-purple, lavender or even white in color, and they have no scent.


In Illinois, obedient plant typically blooms in late summer or early fall, remaining in bloom for about six weeks, Illinois Wildflowers reports. It is easy to grow in most soil conditions, except soil that is too dry. In moist soil, it can spread aggressively. It does best in full sun or partial sun.

Obedient plant is a native plant in Illinois, growing in wet prairies and moist soils, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Planting native plants such as this in your own garden landscape can be beneficial because they are drought and disease resistant and require little upkeep and maintenance. They are also perennial, meaning they come back year after year. 

These flowers are primarily pollinated by bumblebees, Illinois Wildflowers reports. The plant may also attract other bees as well as butterflies and ruby-throated hummingbirds. Like many other plants in the mint family, obedient plant is resistant to deer and other mammals. 


Stay up-to-date on the happenings in Will County's forest preserves by subscribing to The Citizen, our weekly digital newsletter that provides subscribers with updates on Forest Preserve news, upcoming events, and other fun and useful information for the whole family. If you're only interested in programs, subscribe to The Weekly Five, which outlines the five must-do programs each week. Signing up for either newsletter is easy and free of charge.

Rare White Cardinal Caught on Camera in New Lenox


Here's something you don't see every day.

Read More

Creature Feature: The Loud and Imposing Red-Tailed Hawk


That hawk soaring overhead or perched atop a light pole is probably a red-tailed hawk. Learn more about these high-flying birds.

Read More

Don't Feed Ducks and Geese Bread; You're Making Them Sick


Next time you're at a local pond, resist the urge to feed the ducks and geese. They don't need our help, and we are actually making them sick.

Read More

The Citizen Newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter for the latest updates