Most are annual or perennialherbaceous plants from 5 to 100 cm (2 to 39 in) tall, but a few are subshrubs; some are aquatic. They have four-angled stems and opposite leaves. The flowers have upper and lower lips. The genus is most easily recognized by the typical shield on the calyx that has also prompted its common name.
Skullcaps are common herbal remedies in systems of traditional medicine. In traditional Chinese medicine they are utilized to "clear away the heat-evil and expel superficial evils".Scutellaria baicalensis in particular is a common component of many preparations. Its root, known as Radix Scutellariae, is the source of the Chinese medicine Huang Qin. It has been in use for over 2000 years as a remedy for such conditions as hepatitis, diarrhea, and inflammation. It is still in demand today, and marketed in volumes that have led to the overexploitation of the wild plant. Its rarity has led to an increase in price, and encouraged the adulteration of the product with other species of Scutellaria.
The main compounds responsible for the biological activity of skullcap are flavonoids.Baicalein, one of the important Scutellaria flavonoids, was shown to have cardiovascular effects in in vitro. Research also shows that Scutellaria root modulates inflammatory activity in viro to inhibit nitric oxide (NO), cytokine, chemokine and growth factor production in macrophages. Isolated chemical compounds including wogonin, wogonoside, and 3,5,7,2',6'-pentahydroxyl flavanone found in Scutellaria have been shown to inhibit histamine and leukotriene release. Other active constituents include baicalin, apigenin, oroxylin A, scutellarein, and skullcapflavone.
^ abcdJoshee, Nirmal; Patrick, Thomas S.; Mentreddy, Rao S.; Yadav, Anand K (2002). "Skullcap: Potential medicinal crop". In Janick, J.; Whipkey, A. Trends in New Crops and New Uses. Alexandria, Virginia: ASHS Press. pp. 580–6.
^ abUlloa, C. U. and P. M. Jørgensen. Scutellaria.Árboles y arbustos de los Andes del Ecuador. eFloras.
^Li, Jing; Wang, Yan-Hong; Smillie, Troy J.; Khan, Ikhlas A. (2012). "Identification of phenolic compounds from Scutellaria lateriflora by liquid chromatography with ultraviolet photodiode array and electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry". Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis 63: 120–7. doi:10.1016/j.jpba.2012.01.027. PMID22342658.
^Huang, Yu; Tsang, Suk-Ying; Yao, Xiaoqiang; Chen, Zhen-Yu (2005). "Biological Properties of Baicalein in Cardiovascular System". Current Drug Targets 5 (2): 177–84. doi:10.2174/1568006043586206. PMID15853750.
^Kim, Eun Hye; Shim, Bumsang; Kang, Seunghee; Jeong, Gajin; Lee, Jong-soo; Yu, Young-Beob; Chun, Mison (2009). "Anti-inflammatory effects of Scutellaria baicalensis extract via suppression of immune modulators and MAP kinase signaling molecules". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 126 (2): 320–31. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2009.08.027. PMID19699788.
^Lim, Beong Ou (2003). "Effects of wogonin, wogonoside, and 3,5,7,2′,6′-pentahydroxyflavone on chemical mediator production in peritoneal exduate cells and immunoglobulin E of rat mesenteric lymph node lymphocytes". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 84 (1): 23–9. doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(02)00257-X. PMID12499072.
^Yoon, Seo Young; dela Peña, Ike; Kim, Sung Mok; Woo, Tae Sun; Shin, Chan Young; Son, Kun Ho; Park, Haeil; Lee, Yong Soo; Ryu, Jong Hoon; Jin, Mingli; Kim, Kyeong-Man; Cheong, Jae Hoon (2013). "Oroxylin A improves attention deficit hyperactivity disorder-like behaviors in the spontaneously hypertensive rat and inhibits reuptake of dopamine in vitro". Archives of Pharmacal Research 36 (1): 134–140. doi:10.1007/s12272-013-0009-6. ISSN0253-6269.
Perennial herb (in ours). Inflorescence racemose; bracts leaf-like, often smaller towards the apex of the inflorescence; whorls 2-flowered. Calyx pouch-shaped, 2-lipped; lips equal in length, entire, broad, rounded, the upper bearing a transverse protruding outgrowth and finally deciduous, the lower persistent. Corolla 2-lipped. Stamens 4, ascending under the upper lip. Nutlets tuberculate or variously sculptured.
Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats Specimen Records:127 Specimens with Sequences:167 Specimens with Barcodes:143 Species:42 Species With Barcodes:39 Public Records:80 Public Species:31 Public BINs:0