According to a popular German rhyme “The lousewort is so full of lice that it is terrified of itself.” But that’s not true – lice are hardly ever found on this plant. Kerner’s Lousewort is hard to ignore with its eye-catching purple flowers. The harmless-looking species is semi-parasitic, shamelessly harming its neighbours and robbing them of nutrients and water. Kerner’s Lousewort grows to a height of between 5–15 cm. Its deeply serrated leaves are often tinged with red. The pretty flowers are a striking purple and rotate daringly up to 90° on their own axis.
Facts and Figures
Like all louseworts (pedicularis), Kerner’s Lousewort is semi-parasitic. It uses special suction organs to tap into other plants and deprive them of water and nutrients. This is an advantageous strategy on nutrient-deficient and sometimes dry mountain grasslands.
Kerner’s Lousewort can be found in Alpine regions extending from Spain to Austria. In Switzerland, it is found on stony grassland and in low-calcareous scree. You can see these luminous plants on the Gornergrat every now and again. more information