Horsemint

Horsemint

Field of Horsemint

This summer we have seen a field of horsemint (Monarda punctata) develop. A common dune plant, it is less common elsewhere in the Region, preferring sandy soils. It lives in colonies so if you see one, you should look for another. This isn’t hard to do this summer, as they have made a field for themselves.
We initially seeded this plant in 2005. It has expanded every year. This year, with the increase in rain, it has really outdone itself. A member of the mint family, it is too strong for regular use as a mint, containing more thymol than any other plant. It is potentially toxic if you have too much.
I find it to be one of the most unusual flowers I have seen. It has a square stem, as do all mints. The flowers are interspersed by small, sharply-shaped leaves, giving a tufted effect. On a single stem you may see several tufts of petals and leaves. The petals are lavender, fading to white as the flower ages. The leaves are light green so the early flower has an intriguing look.
The masses of blooms perfume the air with a spicy sweet smell and the flowers sway in the wind like any meadow plant. The flowers are a big favorite with all kinds of bees and several butterflies. They may attract hummingbirds as well, although I have not seen a hummingbird out there.
For more information please see
http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_mopu.pdf

 

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