Jon T. Lindstrom is an associate professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.


by Jon T. Lindstrom - posted 07/22/11

Zinnia acerosa (left) and Dyschoriste oblongifolia are an attractive June combination for a dry, rock garden area.

Two species of snakeherb, Dyschoriste oblongifolia and D. linearis, are excellent candidates for a midsummer issue of Hot Plants. These herbaceous perennials flourish in full sun, hot temperatures and droughty conditions. Best used as ground covers in sunny locations, both species emerge from dormancy in midspring, then bear lavender-blue flowers for an extended period of time in late spring to midsummer, longer if rainfall is plentiful. D. linearis is taller (12 inches) then its sister species D. oblongifolia (8-10 inches). Both spread by underground stems to colonize the area in the garden where they are planted.

D. linearis is native to Texas and Oklahoma whereas D. oblongifolia is native to Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Louisiana. In Fayetteville, both species have survived many winters in well-drained locations and should do well throughout the rest of the state.


The durability of Dyschoriste linearis in a full sun, unirrigated location is remarkable.

Common Name: Snakeherb or polka dots

Scientific Name: Dyschoriste oblongifolia, D. linearis

Color: Lavender-blue flowers and medium green foliage; foliage flushes purple in fall. 

Blooming Period:  Late spring into summer

Type: Herbaceous perennial

Size: 8 to 12 inches high, indefinite spread

Exposure: Full sun

When to Plant: Transplant in spring

How to Plant: From a container

Soil: Adaptable to soil; should be well drained, especially in winter.

Watering: Supplemental watering not necessary once plants are established in the landscape.

In Your Landscape: Use these two species as ground covers to underplant beneath other sun-loving perennials.



(Photos courtesy of Jon T. Lindstrom.)


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